Estate planning is the process through which a person makes plans for the transfer of their estate after their death. The estate is what the person owns ranging from houses, land, vehicles, investment, retirement and personal effects like cash, jewelry and clothes among others. The process also comes with a number of goals and objectives and people need to ensure that they have set them out in order to meet them. Some of these objectives assigning the children a guardian, making sure that the properties are transferred to the beneficiaries and to pay the least amount of taxes on it.
Some of the terms that a client needs to keep in mind while thinking of this process includes the will, which states the person receiving the property and at what amounts, the trust which establishes the person or the organization that will take care of their properties on behalf of their beneficiary and the power of attorney, which gives the person or a company the legal power to handle the affairs in case they are not able to do so. It is also important for the clients to start the process when they are legally competent. This means that they should be at least 18 years old and should be of sound mind. Being in good health and free from stress is also required when the clients want to carry out estate planning.
When thinking of carrying out this process, it is important that the clients select a competent and reputable estate planning attorney. Since the process is more than just writing up a will, the clients need to ensure that they have ensured that the attorney they have selected is able to handle all other activities that are required. In order to do this, it is recommended that they compare the services of different lawyers before making their pick. While doing this, they will learn of the lawyers’ educational background and their experience. By selecting one who is experienced, the clients will have an easier time with the process because the lawyers will have the information they require.
While at the law firm, it is important for the clients to meet the person who will be working on their case so that they can determine if they are comfortable with them. Finding a lawyer that they can easily relate to is very important because the planning process requires the clients to provide all types of information about their property. If they are not comfortable with the lawyers, it is recommended that they avoid them and select a different one. On top of it all, it is important for them to ensure that the lawyer they have selected is trustworthy.
Probate Lawyers Play Important Role in Estate Planning and Settlement
Probate lawyers are an essential part of estate planning and estate settlement. Individuals retain probate attorneys to execute their last will and testament. Estate executors can hire lawyers to draft and record legal documents through the court or to help with estate administration duties.
There are two types of probate lawyers; Transactional and Probate Litigators. Transactional lawyers handle estate related duties, while probate litigators are used when heirs contest the Will or if family conflicts arise.
Most people use Transactional lawyers to submit the last will and testament and death certificate. When decedents die without leaving a Will, Transactional attorneys are required to appoint an estate executor and assist in estate settlement procedures.
Common estate duties include sending creditor notification letters; obtaining affidavits for real estate transfers; drafting ‘consent to transfer’ forms for financial accounts; and filing final tax returns.
Probate litigators are retained to defend the estate when heirs contest decedent Wills or if lawsuits are filed against the estate during the probate process. They can also be helpful in mediating family disputes regarding distribution of inheritance property. Some probate lawyers are qualified to handle both transactional and litigation cases. When seeking the services of attorneys it is recommended to interview three or more lawyers to determine which is best suited for the needs of the estate.
Hiring an attorney to handle estate affairs can be difficult to do during the grieving process. It can be helpful to work with the lawyer who executed the decedent’s Will. However, it is also important to work with a lawyer whose personality is suited to the estate administrator. Managing an estate can be extremely emotional and working with a lawyer who shows little compassion or interest can make the process nearly unbearable. It is important to be prepared when interviewing attorneys. When calling to arrange a meeting ask for a list of required information. At minimum, lawyers will require the decedent’s social security number, date of birth, date of death, and legal documents including the last will and testament, death certificate, life insurance policies, tax returns, and property deeds.
It is best to work with probate lawyers who possess experience in real estate law when estates consist of substantial real estate holdings. Transferring property to heirs can be a complex matter and requires specific documents to be filed through the court system.
Individuals can avoid probate by engaging in estate planning strategies prior to death. The only ironclad way to avoid probate is to establish a trust. However, trusts are generally used when estate values exceed $100,000. Individuals with small estates can still protect assets by establishing payable-on-death and transfer-on-death beneficiaries.
How to Avoid Probate Through Estate Planning and Assignment of Beneficiaries
Learning how to avoid probate can save heirs’ time and money, prevent family disputes, and allow easy transfer of inheritance property upon death. Many people are not even familiar with probate let alone how to prevent it from occurring. Probate is required within all states of the United States to ensure decedent estates are settled according to inheritance laws. It is a time-consuming process that can take several months to complete.
Becoming educated about how to avoid probate is as simple as conducting research on the Internet or consulting with a family law attorney or estate planner. Many banks, credit unions, and financial advisors offer estate planning services for a nominal fee. The only way to completely avoid the probate process is to transfer assets into a trust. However, trusts are generally reserved for individuals with assets valued over $100,000. Individuals with smaller estates can take measures to keep certain assets from undergoing the probate process.
One of the most important aspects of estate planning is executing a last will and testament, along with healthcare directives and designating Power of Attorney rights. POA allows a person to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated and unable to make important decisions. Power of attorney rights also allow individuals to pay bills from your checking account, transfer titled property, and make legal decisions. Therefore, the person granted these powers should be someone whom can be trusted to make decisions based on your best interests.
Healthcare directives allow you to state what type of medical care you do or do not want. These can include being placed on life support, receiving nutritional support, organ donation, and do not rescesitate orders.
The Will is used to designate an estate administrator to handle all facets of estate management. Required duties vary depending on estate value, inheritance property, and family dynamics. Small probated estates can settle in three to six months. If heirs contest the Will, estate settlement can be prolonged until attorneys can work out acceptable agreements. Legal fees from contested Wills often bankrupt estates and leave nothing for heirs to inherit. If people die without executing a legal will, the probate process takes longer. An estate administrator must be appointed through the court and additional work is required to locate heirs, inventory property, and other details which are normally included in the last will.
Individuals who hold bank accounts, retirement accounts, financial portfolios, and life insurance policies can assign beneficiaries to receive proceeds upon death. Beneficiary forms can be obtained through the financial institution where the account is held. Account holders can assign multiple beneficiaries and state the percentage of funds they will receive. Beneficiaries must abide by each financial institution’s policy regarding distribution of inheritance funds. Most states require beneficiaries to submit date-of-death value forms to the county tax assessor’s office. As long as decedents are current with taxes, the Assessor’s off will stamp the form so proceeds can be distributed.
Titled property can be kept out of probate by establishing joint ownership. When real estate or motor vehicles have joint titles, the property automatically transfers to the co-owner. When joint ownership is with a person other than your spouse, you might need to establish Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship. A lesser known way to avoid probate is through gifting inheritance property while you’re still alive. The Internal Revenue Service allows gifting up to $12,000 per individual or $20,000 per married couple per year. If gifting limits exceed maximum level, recipients are required to file a federal gift tax return and pay appropriate inheritance taxes.
Implementing strategies to avoid probate is one of the best gifts you can leave loved ones. Regardless of how little or how much you own, it is important to put your affairs in order and execute a last will. Probate is not a fun process, so take measures to protect inheritance property and minimize the time required to settle your estate.
What Are the Key Estate Planning Documents We Should Have?
If you pass away without a will (intestate) in Farmington Utah your spouse is only entitled to the first $50,000.00 outright. Your spouse must split the rest of your assets with your children, no matter how young or old they are. If you have no children, your parents are next in line. With a will, you decide to whom, when, and in what amounts your assets should be distributed. You select your executor or personal representative, the one who shall be responsible for the disposition of the estate. A will must be written, signed by the testator (maker) and witnesses. The original copy is the legal document and must be signed. For a will to be legal in Farmington, Utah you must have at least two witnesses. The testator and the witnesses are required to be present at the signing, and each must see the others sign the will. The witnesses do not have to read or know what the will contains. They must simply be told by the testator that it is his or her will, and asked be to sign as witnesses.
Without a will, someone will need to file a court proceeding for guardianship of your minor children. This person may or may not be the person you would choose to be guardian and this person may be required to post a bond. The costs of this proceeding and the cost of the bond may be paid out of the value of your estate. With a will, you can specify the person who is to be guardian of your minor children and you can waive the requirement of a bond. Without a will a court appointed executor will designate a person to manage your children’s inheritance until they reach age of 18. Ideally, you may prefer they receive the money after they complete their college education or reach the age of 25. With a will, you can specify the person who will manage this money for your children, how the money is to be spent, and at what age your children will receive the money directly. Determining guardianship for your children can be one of the most serious decisions you will make in your lifetime. Think long and hard who the guardian(s) should be before making a decision.
The legal name for the living will is the advanced directive. It permits you (the patient) to communicate, in advance, the medical care decisions you would make if you are rendered incapacitated. These clear instructions can circumvent a difficult decision your family may be forced to make otherwise. The living will is a relatively simple document that must be in writing, signed and dated in the presence of two subscribing adult witnesses, who must attest to the fact that the person is of sound mind and free from duress and undue influence.
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!
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