Showing posts with label Probate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Probate. Show all posts

Friday, February 4, 2022

5 Reasons to Meet With an Attorney to Write Your Will

Many people put it off writing a will until it's too late. This is often because they don't know where to start or think they don't have enough assets to warrant meeting with an attorney. 

However, there are many reasons why you should meet with a will attorney sooner rather than later. This blog post will discuss five of the most important reasons.

What Is a Will?

A will is a legal document that designates who gets your property after you die and how you want your property distributed. If you do not make provisions in your will for someone else to receive your property, your property goes through probate.

Protects Your Interest

The first reason you should meet with an attorney to write your will is to protect yourself. You may be surprised by what happens if you die without making any provision for someone else to inherit your property.

Keeps Your Family Together

Another reason why you should meet an attorney to write your will is so that you can keep your family together. So many families get separated because one person dies, leaving behind no will. 

Without a will, the deceased person's spouse (or other relatives) could end up getting nothing from the deceased person's estate. Having a will written up ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

Helps You Avoid Probate

Probate is the process whereby your property passes through court proceedings before being given to the rightful owner. It takes time and costs money. Therefore, if you have made adequate provisions in your will, you can skip the probate process altogether.

Saves on Taxes

Another reason you should meet a lawyer to write your will is to save on taxes. If you don't have a will, the government has to go through the probate process to determine who inherits your property. They also have to pay out all of the inheritance tax owed. A properly drafted will avoid these problems.

It Provides Guidance on Inheritance

When you create a will, you can designate exactly how much each beneficiary will get upon your death. So, for example, if you name your children as beneficiaries but only give them $10,000 worth of inheritance, then the rest of your property would go to your spouse.

When writing a will, you need to remember that it is better to plan than to regret it. So, if you haven't already met with an attorney to draft your will, now is the perfect time to schedule an appointment with a will attorney.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Thinking About Estate Planning? What You'll Need to Include in It

Your property, cash assets, and debts will all need to be settled after you pass away. To protect your loved ones, it's critically important that you have your information in order. This doesn't mean that you have to have a price tag on each item you own, but you will need a list of

  • real estate
  • collectibles
  • power tools
  • vehicles
  • account numbers to your investment accounts
  • phone numbers to account managers
  • insurance policies

Anything that can be thought of as an asset or a liability will need to be addressed upon your death, so try to get on top of this while you're healthy enough to get things organized.

Structure Is Key

What are you trying to fund and who do you want to help when you're gone? There are many different ways to pass on what you've accumulated over the course of your life. Connecting with an estate planning attorney early in the process can help to simplify things for those you leave behind.

If you want to put your remaining retirement monies in educational trusts for your grandchildren, set up the accounts before the money is available so it will flow through with minimum fees. 

For those who have a dependent who's special needs or will be collecting disability funds, a special needs trust will be needed. It's critically important that you get the structure set up before the money becomes available.

Simplify Where You Can

Consider what items you can easily pass on by listing the beneficiary as a partial owner. If you pre-decease your spouse, your belongings will generally go to them automatically, but if you are a single or a widow, you can reduce the burden on your beneficiaries by setting up payable-on-death arrangements to keep big ticket items out of probate.

Having a will doesn't protect your beneficiaries from having to go through probate; it actually makes probate a requirement. Tools such as a joint ownership deed on real estate and payable-on-death bank and retirement account structures will protect your loved ones from the time and legal hassles of funneling your estate through the courts.

You want your loved ones to think of you fondly, so do what you can now to protect them from having to deal with estate pressures on your death. Inventory what you have. 

Set up a list of bank accounts, retirement accounts, and insurance policies with contact phone numbers and passwords. Put this list in a very secure place and let your loved ones know where to find the information.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

4 Things Retirees Should Know About Estate Planning

You have planned for retirement, prepared for covering healthcare, and researched living expenses. Hopefully, you have also created a will. But one thing that many retirees don’t realize is that even with a will, their death can create financial and emotional complications. For this reason, it is vital for retirees to look into estate planning.

Like most people, you may not have given estate planning much thought until your retirement rolled around. When you retire, it makes you think about your future, your assets, and your death. While it may be a big task, you should start your estate planning today by learning these four facts.

Plan for Probate Costs

All retired individuals should make sure they have money saved or individuals prepared to cover probate costs. After your passing, your will is going to be executed by the specific person you named. When this happens, it’s called the probate process. 

The amount of time it will take for the probate process and the fees charged will highly depend on the state you’re in. In most states, you can expect probate fees to cost around 10 percent of your estate’s value. If you are not already prepared for this, it can cause financial strain on your loved ones.

Financial Beneficiaries

Probate is complicated, and many people find it useful to avoid it altogether. As you’ve discovered above, probate can be a lengthy and expensive process. You can help to avoid probate with financial beneficiaries. 

To do this, you’ll have the financial institutions that are holding your specific financial assets include a beneficiary. This way, they can hand over the asset or funds to your beneficiary upon your death. This is a well-known loophole of probate in the estate planning process that you should be taking advantage of.

Consider Living Trusts

While financial beneficiaries can be named for assets like brokerage accounts, savings, and checking accounts, they don’t work for all types of assets. For larger physical assets such as your car or home, you’ll need to set a living trust. 

This type of trust can also be referred to as a revocable trust. The living trust allows you to state beneficiaries, called trustees, that can retain control of the asset in the event of your death.

Know About POAs

One document that is often discussed during the estate planning process is the power of attorney, or POA. This document comes in two forms, which include financial and medical. In a financial POA, you’re giving the right to give control of your assets to a specific person in the event you become physically or mentally unable to do so. 

With a medical POA, you’re specifying a person who will have control over your medical preferences in the event you become physically incapacitated.

Estate planning is something that everyone should consider doing. Retirement may be the perfect time to sit down and take your individual wishes and assets into consideration. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how estate planning works and are more confident about contacting your lawyer to discuss starting your own planning.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at or Twitter @BrookeChaplan

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Handling Finances: How to Plan For Your Estate

You don't need to own a lot of property or have a great deal of money to need an estate plan. In fact, if your possessions are limited but those you want to give to are in serious need, you'll want a plan that will disperse your assets quickly. Making a list of what you want to accomplish, what you have, and how you want things parsed out is critical.

What's Your End Goal?

Do you have a charity or family member that holds your heart? Then you have a reason to create an estate plan. Carefully consider the people to whom you want to leave your hard-earned possessions and ready cash. 

While making this list, pay special attention to your remaining dependents, including pets. You want to know that if something happens to you, others are covered.

Define Your Assets

To start, make a list of all your bank accounts. What funds do they have, and where will this money go? Then, make a list of your possessions of value. This can be a home, a car, art, or jewelry.

If you own any of these things jointly, sit down with your spouse or partner, and define how you want these possessions to track. If you're married, generally your surviving spouse and offspring will immediately receive the assets. 

If you're divorced, there will likely be legal limitations to be overcome before your asset dispersion can be securely defined.

Stay aware of the laws in your state. Consider a conversation with a Los Angeles estate law firm to protect your California home and assets, for example, from probate or other asset-draining stages in dispersal.

Proper Valuation

Bank balances, retirement accounts, and other monies, stocks, and bonds are fairly straightforward as far as determining their value. However, real estate values change over time. 

Additionally, if you own art that you purchased early in the career of an artist, it may be worth much more as that artist builds a following.

Proper valuation of your assets is particularly important if you're splitting your estate between heirs upon your death. Hire a professional to give you a valuation on anything that may be of fluid value in the future, and get it reappraised in the event of a sizable market change.

Covering Your Assets

If you know that you're leaving behind someone who will need what you intend to give them, it's critical that you invest in the insurance you need to avoid end of life costs. 

A basic long-term care policy, taken out while you're hearty and healthy, can be of manageable cost as you age and make it possible to pass on your legacy.

Additionally, it's important to remember that it's not only age that can lead to needing long-term care. If you have children, it's crucial that you have a plan in place in case you are incapacitated by illness or injury.

Speeding Up the Process

Create vehicles in which to place your assets for long term needs. If the person you want to give to has special needs, consider setting up a special needs trust. Work with an attorney so you can be sure that your assets go in the right vehicle.

For example, if you have a dependent child who will always need support, the right trust will allow them to receive disability insurance as well as your contribution. 

The wrong trust will block them from receiving any disability until the trust has been completely wound down. Each state is different, so do this right the first time to protect your loved one.

Avoiding Probate

If you only have a will, chances are extremely good that your goods and monies will have to go through probate. Depending on the state you live in, avoiding probate will take multiple steps unless you have a surviving spouse. If you are divorced or your spouse has passed on, probate is likely the next step.

Probate is time-consuming, frustrating, and sometimes costly. Don't rely on your will to protect your loved ones from this process, especially if they need those assets to thrive. Address this while you have the ability to make good decisions.

Nobody likes to think about estate planning, but it's an important part of your legacy that needs to be addressed. Do the right thing now to protect the people and causes you want to support in the future.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Know and Understand Essential Probate Financial Planning

Following your death, you want to be absolutely sure that your loved ones are taken care of and your assets are quickly passed to your beneficiaries. Here is a closer look at some of the key aspects of estate planning and a few steps that you can take to make this process as smooth and stress-free as possible.


One of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your family and assets after you pass away is establishing a will. A will is nothing more than a legal document that describes what you would like to do with your assets after you pass away. That document can also be used to name your executor and who is going to be the guardian of your children if they are still minors.

Living Trusts

The primary purpose of a living trust is to quickly transfer a deceased party’s assets without going through probate. When the state doesn’t know where the assets are going to go, they are placed in probate, and that process can take years. 

Probate will become even more complicated if one or more parties claim that they are the rightful beneficiaries. To avoid those issues, you should consider establishing a living trust.

Financial Power of Attorney

If you ever become incapacitated, then the individual who has been given financial power of attorney will be able to manage your finances. That type of legal document is going to be incredibly important if you are severely injured and don’t have the ability to pay bills, invest, transfer your assets, or collect retirement benefits. When an individual doesn’t establish power of attorney, all of those important financial transactions are going to be nearly impossible.

Medical Power of Attorney

The medical power of attorney document is very similar to the financial power of attorney document, but the individual can make medical decisions instead of financial decisions. In many cases, these two documents are signed by the same spouse, sibling, or parent. After the paperwork has been signed, that party will be able to make a wide variety of medical decisions if you are ever in an accident or suffering from a serious disease.

Once you have finished your estate plan, you should review and update it at least once every year or two. You must also take a fresh look at all of that paperwork whenever you buy property, sell property, switch jobs, or alter your marriage status.

Friday, May 30, 2014

5 Tips to Creating a Will that Will Benefit the Whole Family

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No matter how much your assets are worth, writing a will is an important part of ensuring your family’s future. Here are five tips to make your will benefit your family as much as possible.

1. Take Inventory

Because your will “is the document which will record who is awarded your belongings and how to allocate your finances after death,” it is essential that you take an accurate inventory of your belongings (Donnell Law Group). Whether you have several cars and a summer house to take into account, or only a few family heirlooms to consider, it is important that you take an inventory of your assets.

This step can be done under the guidance of an estate planning lawyer or before you meet with one. Make a written list of all your assets. These can include physical things like a house or vehicle, and intangible things like investments. Make sure you do your research, though, as some things, such as retirement accounts, may not pass via your will. A licensed estate planning attorney will be able to answer any questions you may have.

2. Consider a Trust

Think trusts are only for the wealthy? Think again. According to Suze Orman, “A revocable living trust allows your heirs to avoid probate entirely and keeps you in complete control of your finances while you're alive.”

One of the best things about a revocable living trust is you will be able to make changes regarding the management of your assets as needed. After your death, your elected trustee will follow your directions for care and distribution of the trust.

3. Be Specific

As with your inventory, the best way to make your will effective is to avoid generalizations. Don’t hesitate to give brief descriptions of items or add stipulations to the distribution of your assets.

Being specific is most important when you are establishing the care of your children in the event of your death. This is where you outline exactly who should have custody and care of your children.

4. Look into Life Insurance

If you do not already have a life insurance policy, there is no time like the present to investigate your options. Life insurance is one of the easiest ways to provide for your dependents. Life insurance also can be used for settlement of your “debts, funeral expenses, and income or estate taxes” (Nolo).

5. Take this Chance to Discuss Life Planning with Your Children

Whether you have small children or your kids are all grown, the best time to talk to them about the contents of your will is when you’re writing it.

For young children, this can be a chance to introduce and explain concepts like death and funerals. This may seem intimidating, but it is better that your children have a construct of death before they are asked to deal with a death in their family.

For teenaged and adult children, this is a great time to feel out how you would like to divide your estate. Have personal, one-on-one conversations with your children about what property they would like to have pass to them. Having a specific, written will can prevent disputes later on.

Don’t wait to handle your estate planning. Writing a will is fairly simple, but it offers invaluable protection. Having a written will and other legal measures, like a revocable living trust, will provide financial and legal security for your family.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Will Can Be Contested in Probate with a Variance

Are you interested in laws relating to probate NSW has established because one of your parents just passed away and you and your siblings are trying to divide things up according to the will? If so, you may have heard about how a probate court will look into cases where a false will may have been written to determine if it is real or not. If the court determines that the will was not forged or altered in any way, it will have to be followed, even if people do not like it. If it was altered or forged, steps will be taken to determine what should actually be done, and the fake will can be tossed out.

However, what if you disagree with a will that was left, even though it is authentic? Is there anything that you can do? For example, what if you got in a fight with your father right before his death and so he cut you out of the will entirely, giving all of his money to your sister and leaving nothing for you. He did this because he was angry. It was an emotional decision, not a rational one that represented what he really wanted, but is it still a binding contract? Are you stuck with those results?

Generally, a court will not rule against a will. However, there is still something that you can do, and it is known as a variance. When you create a variance, you alter the will that the person left, in a legal fashion, to change what you get. The big catch is that the other parties must agree. If they will be getting less since the change is in your favour, they have to say that they think this is fine. The will can then be changed and the money or assets given out accordingly.

This is done because, if all parties are in agreement, it would be easy for them to redistribute things anyway. For example, if your sister got the vast majority of the money, but she thought that you deserved more, she could simply take her portion from the will and write you a check for what she thought you should get. It would be incredibly easy to circumvent the will. Therefore, variances were created, but they cannot take place if anyone who would lose money or assets disagrees and wants the will to remain unchanged.

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