Estate Planning Attorney
Hiring an estate planning attorney is the only sure-fire technique to ensure your estate is properly handled and all documents legally executed. Estate planning is important for everyone, regardless of the extent or lack of assets.
It is particularly important to work with an estate planning attorney when discord exists within the family. Things can go terribly wrong when family members do not get along. Unfortunately, death brings out the best and worst in people. More often than not, it brings out the worst in dysfunctional families.
Whenever possible, establish estate planning while you are in good health. At minimum, a Last Will and Testament, Healthcare Proxy and Power of Attorney should be put into place. If minor children exist, guardianship should be arranged. Although executing a Will does not keep the estate out of probate, a valid Will usually reduces the amount of time the estate is held in probate.
Probate is the legal process involved to make certain the estate is handled in the manner the decedent desired. When a person dies, everything they own must be transferred to probate. Typically, an estate administrator is designated within the Will. In instances where the decedent dies without a Will (intestate), a probate judge appoints someone to the position. Generally, this is a family member or close personal friend.
The administrator has many duties including handling funeral arrangements, taking inventory of personal and financial assets, contacting creditors, paying outstanding debts, and filing a final tax return. Although some of these duties can be handled by the estate planning attorney, the probate executor is responsible for handling the bulk of estate duties.
It is a good idea to hire an estate planning lawyer whose personality is similar to yours or your personal representative. Keep in mind the person you designate as estate administrator will be grieving. There is nothing worse than working with an attorney who shows no compassion or respect for the decedent.
The only way to avoid probate is to place all assets into a Living Trust. Trusts are containers that hold assets associated with your estate. A Trustee is appointed and distribution of assets occurs quickly instead of dragging on for months or years in the probate court system; thus saving the estate money.
Estate planning attorneys can be found in telephone directories, the American Bar Association website, and through lawyer referral networks. When possible, take time to interview three or more lawyers before making a final selection.
We invite you to learn more about estate planning, hiring estate planning attorneys, inheritance, probate and more in our article library. If you are an heir with assets held in probate and need cash for inheritance proceeds, contact Simon Volkov today.