If people ask you about the need for defending your estate, you should be mindful of the legal contortions that arise when dying intestate. You have spent your life amassing estates and wealth, hoping that your family will live a comfortable life when you are gone. The wills and estates guarantee that your loved ones enjoy a blissful life after you have gone. However, your family might be left with nothing if someone else makes a claim on proofs that you have left unwittingly. If the will or estate is contested by distant relations, you need professional help to guide you. It is surprising that a lot of people die without leaving a will – intestate. In this case, the law appoints an executor and takes the predefined path to dispense of the estate and wealth as it is fit. Several parties can benefit and there are usually long legal battles that take place to lay claims to the assets of the deceased. The first thing to keep in mind is to make a will. Do not make use of do it yourself estate planning kits as these could often urge you to make a mistake. With professional advice, you can make a will which gives the right amount of assets to your beloveds.
The first thing to do is to hire an estate and wills lawyer to help you list the people you are keen to provide for. You need to take the laws and legislations into consideration. Make sure to think about the possible loopholes as otherwise your will might be contested later on. Consider the taxes which can become applicable and hence reduce your benefits. A will kit will not address these issues. Wills are usually subject to modifications. Wills and estates lawyers are generally entrusted with the job of changing a clause or adding a fresh executor to the will.
This is done with codicils which can bring about rampant changes to the person’s will, although these are normally used for updating small things in the document. Changing of wills with the help of a codicil is a safe and secure procedure as it requires the same safeguards which are used for making a will. However, estate and will lawyers generally take the stage to contest the legal tools. Wills are not the simplest things and they have significance since it adds to all the hard work which you have done in life, and also because it protects the future and safety of your kids and all those who are dependent on you for leading a good life.
Why a Real Estate Attorney is Important in Property Transactions
Most attorneys have a specialization – personal injury, family law, estate planning, bankruptcy, patents, auto accidents, criminal law, and real estate. Buyers and sellers in real estate transactions should seek advice from an attorney who specializes in home purchases and sales, title disputes, contract preparation, and mortgage documentation.
Finding the Right Hyrum Utah Attorney
If you are like most people, you hold off on finding an attorney until you have signed a contract. By that time, things need to be done within a certain amount of time. It would be wiser to ask around for a referral of a reputable attorney before you sign a contract. There are many resources available that can help you find the right attorney:
• Hyrum Utah Bar Association has a referral section which allows users to search for an attorney in Hyrum. You can visit the website or call or speak to someone who can help you find an attorney in your area.
• Ask another attorney – Most attorneys can recommend a colleague that has done a great job for another client. Call your family law or personal injury lawyer and ask for a few referrals.
• Speak to your realtor – Your realtor should be able to provide you with a few names of good estate attorneys he or she has worked with in the past.
Acquire two to three names of attorneys and call and speak to each one. Some lawyers offer a free consultation during which time he or she will explain the home sale/buying process, the law firm’s fee, and the house you plan to purchase or sell. If you have already hired an attorney but do not feel comfortable with his or her work ethic or method of communication, you should speak to another lawyer and have your transaction transferred to the new attorney.
In many respects, it has become a truism that there is a lawyer available for every stage of life. There are advocates focused solely on children’s health and well-being, attorneys whose focus is the purchasing of first homes and businesses, and lawyers that assist families and businesses in creating a plan that takes into account the eventual end of life, and possibility of mental illness.
An estate lawyer’s area of expertise lies in assessing a client’s current financial position and then properly advising them on how to best divide and disburse their assets so that their own needs are taken care of and their family is kept secure and free of substantial care costs. Each situation, business and personal, is unique, and a qualified and attentive estate planning attorney is essential in ensuring that a plan is created which takes individual needs into account. The true goal of any trust attorney is to earn his or her fee by setting the minds of their clients at ease.
Planning – The Key To Any Estate Lawyer’s Business
The process of creating a last will and testament be it a living, simple, or complex will, is fraught with pitfalls. While do-it-yourself “will kits” abound, they rarely contain the kind of information that is actually of assistance in the long term for families looking to create a viable illness plan or post-mortem plan.
Will lawyers, as they are sometimes known, are well-versed in the creation and execution of wills. They know that a missed signature or poorly-worded clause in a will document can alter or even void the entire structure, and leave a family in disarray over what was meant to be a simple and straightforward dispersal of funds. Any established and credible estate law firm will have a number of attorneys on staff that thoroughly knows the system well enough to not only advise clients on the matter of their last words and instructions, but also provide a host of other services.
Trusts, Businesses, and the Role of An Estate Lawyer
In addition to creating will documents and assisting clients with the process of long-term care planning, estate attorneys can provide a variety of other services. Some of the most common include trust fund planning, including irrevocable and charitable remainder trusts, as well as assisting family-owned businesses with the transferable of ownership, buy-sell arrangements, and even the deferral and reduction of taxes.
The Final Word on Estate Attorneys
They are a necessary part of any thought-out end of life plan. With the vast array of technical details that go into providing care, documenting wills, and transferring businesses, an estate attorney serves an essential and cost-effective function.
Will Executor – Things to Consider When Establishing Your Estate
Will executor refers to an individual or organization that has been designated to administer the estate of a deceased person. Other common names to describe this position include personal probate representative, estate executor, administrator, estate agent, and probate administrator. Regardless of the label, a will executor wears many hats and is responsible for a variety of duties. Typically, estate executors are appointed through a Last Will and Testament. When decedents die intestate (without a Will), the administrator will be appointed by a probate judge. Nearly every estate must undergo the process of probate. The only way to keep assets out of probate is by establishing an irrevocable life insurance trust or living trust. Even when trusts are executed a will executor must be designated to make certain assets are distributed to designated heirs. When selecting an individual to oversee an estate, it is important to talk to the person and obtain their permission. Administering an estate can be challenging, time-consuming and emotionally-charged. Will executors must be of legal age and cannot possess any felony convictions. Most people appoint a close family member or personal friend. Others hire professionals such as estate planners or lawyers. In any case, will executors are compensated for their time. Estate administration fees are regulated by each individual state.
Some states compensate executors on an hourly basis. Others pay a percentage of the estate value or a flat-fee. Many considerations exist when appointing an estate executor. One factor to consider is family dynamics. Death can bring out the best and worst in people. It is not uncommon for family disputes to erupt over who should receive an heirloom necklace or piece of antique furniture. Estate planning experts recommend appointing two Will executors. If the primary administrator is unable to fulfill their duties, the second named executor can rapidly take charge. In most cases, will administrators work with an estate planning service or probate attorney to ensure documents are properly filed through the court system.
Duties of will executors include securing estate assets, notifying creditors, paying outstanding debts, obtaining property appraisals, and distributing assets to designated beneficiaries. If heirs exist who are missing, administrators must work with an attorney and attempt to locate and notify them of impending inheritance.
Probate vs. Non-Probate: What Is the Difference?
When planning your estate it is important to understand the difference between probate and non-probate assets. Probate is the process through which a court determines how to distribute your property after you die. Some assets are distributed to heirs by the court (probate assets) and some assets bypass the court process and go directly to your beneficiaries (non-probate assets).
The probate process includes filing a will and appointing an executor or administrator, collecting assets, paying bills, filing taxes, distributing property to heirs, and filing a final account. This can be a costly and time-consuming process, which is why some people try to avoid probate by having only non-probate assets. Probate assets are any assets that are owned solely by the decedent. This can include the following:
• Real property that is titled solely in the decedent’s name or held as a tenant in common
• Personal property, such as jewelry, furniture, and automobiles
• Bank accounts that are solely in the decedent’s name
• An interest in a partnership, corporation, or limited liability company
• Any life insurance policy or brokerage account that lists either the decedent or the estate as the beneficiary
Non-probate assets can include the following:
• Property that is held in joint tenancy or as tenants by the entirety
• Bank or brokerage accounts held in joint tenancy or with payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) beneficiaries
• Property held in a trust
• Life insurance or brokerage accounts that list someone other than the decedent as the beneficiary
• Retirement accounts
When planning your estate, you need to take into account whether property is probate property or non-probate property. Your will does not control the distribution of non-probate property. Check the ownership of your property and your accounts to make sure jointly owned property will be distributed the way you want it to. It is also important to review your beneficiary designations.
Joint property is the most common form of non-probate property. Normally it will pass to the surviving joint owner, regardless of the terms of your will. Joint property can cause problems:
Example: Widow’s will leaves her estate equally to her two children. But because of concerns about her own health, widow has placed her bank accounts in joint name with her daughter, who lives nearby. At widow’s death, these accounts will normally go to daughter, giving her an unequal share. Daughter may refuse to share them, feeling that she earned them by living nearby and helping her mother. Distant son may choose to fight about it, in court or within the family. (Widow should have given daughter a power of attorney for use in case of illness.)
Life insurance is another common form of non-probate property. Proceeds are paid, according to contract, to the designated beneficiary, regardless of what your will says. Here again, problems can arise:
Example: Husband’s will creates a “credit trust”, to be funded with $650,000.00,(1) which will provide income to Wife, but which will not be subject to federal estate tax at her later death. This $650,000.00 in trust is also free of tax in Husband’s estate because of the unified credit against the federal estate tax. Thus this $650,000.00 is intended to pass to the children untaxed. However, Husband neglects to designate “my estate” as beneficiary of his life insurance. At his death, his assets consist of the $450,000.00 residence in joint name, the $1,000,000.00 life insurance payable to Wife, and miscellaneous tangible assets. All goes to Wife.
Feeling insecure after loss of her spouse (the normal reaction), she refuses to disclaim any of the insurance, and the chance to put $650,000.00 in trust is lost. At her later death, the unnecessary tax on the $650,000.00 will be $258,500.00 to $357,500.00, depending on the size of her estate.
In these cases the time and money spent writing the will was wasted because property was not titled properly, or beneficiary designation was overlooked. Other forms of non-probate property include pension, profit sharing and IRAs. Like life insurance, they will pass to a designated beneficiary. If there is none, they may be paid to spouse or to the estate of the decedent, depending upon the terms of the plan and local law. (Note: spouses have statutory rights in qualified retirement plans, and must consent to being omitted as beneficiary.)
Trusts are also non-probate property. Frequently trusts are substitutes for wills, so that the overall estate plan is followed. However, your taxable estate may include a trust created for your benefit by someone else (parent, spouse). In this case it is particularly important to coordinate your estate plan with the terms of the trust. We have also seen forgotten life insurance trusts, created by the decedent, at variance with his final estate plan. Estate planning often involves more than just writing a will. You must consider the nature of your property, its title, contractual provisions, the amount, and potential taxes.
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506