Did you know that Martin Luther King Jr., Kurt Cobain, and Sonny Bono all died without leaving a valid will? Creating a will, and updating it periodically, is a good idea since unanticipated legal questions and challenges can sometimes arise after death.
Once someone dies, their estate is often handed over to a probate lawyer. If you have had to deal with a death recently and are now handling an estate, here are three tips for dealing with probate law, and for knowing when you should call in a lawyer to assist.
1. What’s A Revocable Living Trust?
Revocable living trusts are estate planning tools used to establish who will receive property and possessions after a death. A living trust will avoid probate, which is court supervised, and allow beneficiaries to receive property without having to spend a lot of time and money in court. What can’t a trust do? Trusts cannot name children’s guardians, name executors, or leave instructions for how debt should be handled. These are the benefits of leaving a will, instead.
2. What is an Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning attorneys specialize in handling estates before and after death. They advise clients on how to get their affairs in order, so that their wishes are honored in case of future mental disability (such as persistent vegetative state) or death. An arranged estate plan will include a power of attorney assignment, a living will, and a will. Many plans will also take an inventory of financial assets.
3. Should You Hire a Probate Attorney?
Although many families would rather avoid probate, since it involves both time and lawyer fees, in some cases, it is highly advisable to hire a probate attorney. Although will contests are statistically rare, they do occur and can become ugly legal spectacles. Lawyers can help prevent a contest from racking up huge court fees and tearing a family apart. If the estate in question does not qualify for “small estate” procedures, or if the assets include complicated titles like business deeds, then a lawyer can be useful.
Is your will or living trust in order? Let us know in the comments.