Do you remember taking a will writing class at school? No, nor do we.
Even if you did take law at some point during your education, the likelihood of you covering the contents of wills could be slim.
Yet writing a will is something that everyone will have to deal with at some point in the future. It can be an intimidating process, and often its unclear what questions to ask a lawyer who is working on your will with you.
Nobody wants to end up with a will that doesn’t guarantee what they’d hoped it would when writing it. It is possible to write a will without a lawyer, but we would advise against doing so. This is because it won’t stand up to as much scrutiny as if you’ve worked with a lawyer to create it.
These are some of the things you should make sure to mention during the will-writing process
When Should I Write My Will?
To best understand the questions to ask a lawyer when writing a will you first need to know when is best to start writing a will to begin with.
The truth is there’s never really an ideal time to start thinking about writing your will.
You should bear in mind what a will contains, and the importance of making one for your children and your current financial situation. There’s also your property to consider, and what you want to be done with it when you pass on among many other factors.
One stigma that needs to be removed is the idea that you should only write your will when you’re old. There are in fact certain situations where it would be advisable to begin writing your will at a much younger age. Depending on your specific situation, when the time is right, there are questions you need to be asking.
You should also make sure to find the right lawyer for you, before you begin discussions on your will. It’s important to know what kind of lawyer writes wills. In US law, they will be known either as a probate lawyer or an estate planning lawyer.
As well as finding the right lawyer, you need to make sure you know who your beneficiaries and executors are, and check this with your lawyer. If you’re unsure who these people should be, then this is something to question your lawyer about in your first meeting.
You will also need to ask state-specific questions that we can’t cover here due to the quantity of differing state legislation across America. Provided you meet with a lawyer in your home state, they should be well-versed in the specific legalities within your state.
Questions To Ask A Lawyer When Writing A Will
These questions, as with the timing of writing your will, will depend on the specific financial situation you are in at the time.
For example, if you are a Medicaid recipient, there would be certain questions to ask a lawyer that you wouldn’t need to ask if you weren’t a recipient related to Medicaid estate recovery.
You should first clarify whether this is a living will or a last will. The difference between these is that a last will only comes into effect following your death.
Meanwhile, a living will, or living trust, can be used to transfer property or assets to your loved ones before death. You should discuss with your lawyer as to which of these would be more advisable for your circumstances. Many people use both living wills and last wills in conjunction with one another.
You should ask your lawyer whether it would be beneficial in your circumstances to create a living trust or not. This decision will be dependent on your individual situation. If you do decide to create a living trust, you should still create your last will to ensure all your assets are covered.
A Question Of Property
What happens to your property after your death is known as estate planning, and is often one of the most important parts of will-writing given how much of an investment property is today.
There are estate-planning lawyers who are specifically trained in dealing with matters pertaining to estate.
If your main goal is to pass your property on to your loved ones, it may be advisable to seek out an estate-planning specialist. If you choose to do so, as well as essential questions relating to their experience and their fees, you should firstly confirm with them that their primary focus is on estate planning.
You should also find out whether they execute the plan themselves, or if they only draw up the will and the instructions contained within. Usually, it’s better to work with a lawyer who can also execute the plan, given that if they don’t you’ll only need to find an additional person who can put into motion the will you’ve written.
If you expect to live a lot longer after you’ve written your will, you should also enquire as to whether your lawyer conducts periodic reviews of your will. This can help those who have written a will at a younger age, as the will can be checked and updated with new assets as necessary.
Another question you need to ask your lawyer is how they will be contactable to you if you have any further questions after your meeting. These legal meetings can be a stressful time, and as prepared as you are people can forget to ask certain questions. This is why its vital to know how you can contact your lawyer outside of a meeting.
Finally, you should ask your lawyer how they expect your will could be challenged, and work to prevent as many possible contentions as possible before signing off on the will.
If You’re Still Unsure
If you’re still concerned about your will-writing, questions to ask a lawyer or how to find the right lawyer for you, then you can use the Halt Law Directory.
Halt has an entire category dedicated to estate planning lawyers, so you know you can contact people who are specialists in the field. For further tips on choosing a lawyer please look through some of our other blog posts.
Will-writing can be a surreal process, but there are places you can contact and questions you can ask to ensure you get the most out of the experience.
Interested in more tips? Check out more of our blog.
If you want to draft a will or you are in the process of doing so, it is wise to have legal counsels to help ensure all documents meet legal requirements and are accurate. The main purpose of having your last will is to give out property you may own after your death.
Due to the complicated nature of wills, it is essential to seek the services of a qualified lawyer. The best lawyer who specializes in drafting a will is an estate planning lawyer. An estate planning lawyer from Ely Rosenzveig in Plains NY has experience when it comes to drafting wills.
Choosing the right estate planning lawyer can be difficult. This article makes the process easy by giving you some of the things that you should look for in one. They include:
1. Create a list of all candidates
The first thing you can do is to come up with a list of potential candidates. You can start by asking friends and family to give you referrals. You can also use the word of mouth approach to find the right lawyer. You can also consult your colleagues for referrals.
After you have come up with a list of candidates, look into each lawyer’s background. This will help you narrow down your list.
2. Check if the lawyer has Knowledge of estate law
Every state has its own particular requirements that a will should meet for it to be legally enforced. The person drafting the will must be 18 years and above. He or she should also be of sound mind that means they thoroughly understand what they own and will be distributing to others. The will must also have an official signature and at least two witnesses who are not beneficiaries in the will. A good estate planning lawyer should understand these estate requirements and ensure that your will meet all applicable laws.
3. Check the experience level of the lawyer
Many people think that they only need to draft a will and they are done. However, the truth is that a will is often not satisfactory on its own. Estate planning involves many legal documents modified to prepare the family for major changes such as disability or death. Choose someone who has at least three years’ experience. Ask the lawyer to describe their experience.
4. Understand the lawyer’s rates
Price is very important when it comes to choosing a lawyer. Consider how much you can afford to pay the lawyer and find a lawyer who fits within your budget. There are attorneys who offer their clients free consultations while others don’t. Others also offer a free consultation for a specific amount of time, like the first hour, and begin to charge after that. be aware of the lawyer’s policy before you can hire them.
Trust vs will: what’s the difference? Both are legal arrangements that distribute property to your friends and families but operate in different ways. It’s an important thing to think about, but something that most people don’t do: over 60 percent of Americans has done no estate planning.
Keep reading to see how trusts and wills differ, and to figure out which one is the best fit for what you need.
Wills are legal documents that only take effect when you die. As a part of a will, you appoint an executor to distribute your property to your friends and relatives. Wills can only handle property that you own outright.
Wills require a Probate Lawyer and are entered into public record once they take effect. This means that the flow of property and money has to be overseen by a court, which can extend the time it takes for the estate to be distributed.
Wills also operate in areas that trust, as financial vehicles, cannot. For example, you can name guardianship of dependents in a will and can specify any final wishes that you may want, like memorials or funeral arrangements.
The largest difference between trusts and wills is that trusts can be put into effect before you die. A trust is a legal entity that manages your funds and assets on your behalf. Your money and property are no longer in your name, but in the name of your trust.
There are three main types of trusts that you can choose from. Revocable living trusts are trusts that name you as a trustee. You still have a lot of power determining where your money goes and what remains in your name.
Irrevocable living trusts turn control over to someone else that you’ve named as a trustee. You cannot remove funds from that trust yourself, nor can you reverse the decision of creating that trust and turning it over to someone else.
Testamentary trusts are trusts created as a part of someone’s will. Upon someone’s death, a trust is created by the will’s executor. This is done to hold funds for a specific period of time before they are distributed, to reduce the will’s tax burden, or for other administrative and financial reasons.
Keep in mind that since testamentary trusts fall under the will probate process, they will be overseen by a court and entered into the public record.
Trust vs Will: Each Fits Different Needs
Now that you know how to compare a trust vs will, you’re able to figure out which one is best suited for your needs. Don’t wait until the last minute to write your will or set up a trust. Having either (or both!) set up well in advance can leave you with peace of mind knowing that those you love will be taken care of once you’re gone.
Check out the Estate Planning section of our blog for more information about end-of-life planning!
No one wants to mull over death and make the necessary arrangements after they crossover. However, sometime sooner or later, you need to get into this discussion. It is essential to discuss the wills and the probate process to make sure that your last wishes get attended the way you want it to.
Are you thinking about how to go ahead with the probate process? Are you planning to delve into this for a decedent or yourself? In both situations, you need to get in touch with a probate lawyer. A lawyer can provide you the best guidance. To know more about this, you can get in touch with Silverstone Law FL.
There are several reasons for joining hands with a probate lawyer. A few important ones are as follows:
o The lawyer can secure an estate from a legal claim
Not many people realize that estates get several legal claims. And the probate process can draw in the ones who want to leverage from the testator’s demise. A probate lawyer ensures that the decedent’s wish gets fulfilled without any hindrances.
o Drafting the will
People might think they can write their will by themselves! However, it is not an easy task. Since, it is one of the most crucial documents that you will draft in your life, declaring essential life decisions, it is crucial to get it correct. To make sure that you write the will in a risk-free way, you need to get in touch with a probate lawyer. Today, most Americans don’t have an estate plan or will, which results in troubles later. Hence, it is essential to consult an expert lawyer and draft your will.
o Lawyers can expedite the probate process
Legal processes sometimes are unpredictable! Hence, the probate process at times can get slightly delayed. It is all the truer when the settlement process gets managed by a person who doesn’t have apt know-how about the probate process. While this might not be feasible always, the expert probate attorneys can help to minimize the impact of problems that came in the process.
o Lawyers can provide guidelines and answer the necessary questions
Regardless of the situation that you are in, a probate lawyer can offer the answer to all the questions a person has on the probate process. It helps to reduce the confusion and also take decisions with confidence. The probate process can, at times be very complicated. A layperson is not aware of the legal jargons. Here an expert attorney can help in understanding the legal procedures, terms, and formalities.
o The estate attorneys make sure the debts get paid correctly
There is a limited timeline within which people need to settle their debts. Also, the inheritances need to get released within the correct time as well. An expert lawyer ensures timely payment. If there are ample debts, the probate process might become slightly complicated. It is here that the lawyer can ensure that timely payments reduce the hassles.
A probate lawyer ensures that the probate process takes place correctly. They also provide all the necessary guidance and help during the probate process, so that people are free to voice their queries and make the correct decision.
In the United States, almost three million people die per year. What happens to their belongings when they die?
Depending on the situation, the estate goes into probate. Probate is a long and sometimes frustrating process for determining who gets what. But everything rests on how your parents set up their will, estate, or trust.
A parent’s passing is heartbreaking for the entire family. Regardless of how your parents set up their estate, there are some things you should do.
Read on to learn what to do when a parent dies.
Obtain a Death Certificate
You might need help with how to handle an estate. It depends on how your parents set up their finances. But the first thing you’ll need is a death certificate.
It’s often necessary to turn off gas, electricity, Internet service and more. But without a death certificate, customer service people won’t discuss any of this with you.
If your loved one dies at home, call 911. Someone needs to come and pronounce your loved one as deceased. Be sure and notify the parent’s family doctor as well.
Arrange for the Funeral
Many people have prepaid burial plans. If your parent had one, call the designated mortuary. They’ll handle everything for you.
If there was no plan, it’s tougher. Don’t do this all by yourself. Ask family and friends to help make funeral arrangements.
Notify Family, Friends, and Employer
Have family and close friends help you notify anyone you can think of that should know about the death.
If your parent was still working, call his employer. There may be a final paycheck or even life insurance or other survivor benefits due.
Speaking of life insurance…
Call the Life Insurance Company
If you know your parent had a life insurance policy, call the life insurance company. They’ll need a copy of the death certificate too.
Are you the sole beneficiary of the life insurance policy? If your parent has a surviving spouse, you might not get the entire policy payout.
Notify the Social Security office of your loved one’s death. They’ll also need a copy of the death certificate.
Cancel any payments your parent was receiving. You don’t want to end up owing money to the Social Security Administration.
Cancel, Cancel, Cancel
The Social Security office notifies Medicare of your parent’s death. But cancel your parent’s Part D Medicare (prescription drugs). Also, cancel any extra Advantage plans.
Cancel life insurance as well and close out credit card accounts. Notify the three big credit bureaus as well.
To avoid identify theft, cancel your loved one’s voter registration and driver’s license.
Know What to Do When a Parent Dies
It’s never easy when a loved one dies. But you should know what to do when a parent dies. Get legal help if necessary.
Get a death certificate right away. Then notify family and friends and get help arranging the funeral if it wasn’t already planned.
Call the life insurance company as well as the Social Security Administration. Then cancel everything that’s no longer necessary.
Remember to take good care of yourself throughout this process. If you need help finding a good lawyer, please check our directory.
No one likes to think about the end. Many people wonder what happens if you die without a will. Death is a heavy subject, but if you don’t have estate planning, then everything you own by the state’s wishes and no your own.
People tend to put off creating a will because it addresses the finality of life. It’s important to take the time because dying “intestate,” can lead to problems not only with the dissolution of your assets but also hurt feelings of family members.
We’ll go through what happens when you don’t have a will and the issues your family members face.
Intestate Succession Laws: What Happens if You Die Without A Will?
The purpose of a will is to determine who your assets go to and proclaim the guardian of your underage children. You also choose the executor of your state such as Peck Ritchey, LLC who is in charge of making sure your final requests are heeded.
Without it, the state disperses your property via the intestate succession laws. Any property or accounts co-owned are not subject to these laws and instead, go to the co-owner. Also, any life insurance policies are given to the beneficiary and not determined by the state.
Dying Without a Will When You’re Married
When you’re married with a wife and children, the assets are divided with all or some other percentage of it going to your wife. The rest is distributed among your children, siblings, and parents.
It doesn’t matter if you promised your oldest son to give him your coin collection. If it goes to your mother, she has control of it and doesn’t have to give it to you.
This can lead to heartbreak and distress for family members who argue over the distributed property. The state does not follow your wishes. It follows the letter of the law.
What Happens if You’re Single or Divorced?
The rules are straight forward when you’re married, but it gets complicated if you’re single or divorced. If you have a partner but aren’t married, the state doesn’t recognize them for the distribution of assets.
If you’ve lived with the person for 20 years and had a life with them, unless you are legally married, that person won’t get anything. There are some states that recognize domestic partnerships, but you’ll need to check your state’s laws.
If you are single, then relatives are found and assets distributed. If you have no children, parents or siblings, then it can go to aunts, cousins, etc. If there are no relatives, then the state takes your assets.
The state chooses guardians for underage children based on their best interest.
Problems with Dying Without a Will
The state doesn’t recognize your wishes even if they’ve been verbally stated with witnesses. They also don’t recognize family feuds, so if you hate your brothers, he can still end up getting a portion of your estate.
If you lived with someone the rest of your family doesn’t approve of, then they can make sure that person gets nothing of your estate. All property goes to relatives and doesn’t recognize a girlfriend or boyfriend.
Get Your Will Completed
What happens if you die without a will? It could lead to family turmoil and broken hearts. Take the time to visit a lawyer and complete your will.
If you want items to go specifically to a person in or outside of your family, a will is the only way to guarantee that happens.
If you’re interested in learning more about creating a will, then explore our site.
Death isn’t something most of us like to think about, but it’s going to happen. It’s very important to think about what you will leave behind when you go.
Are you’re family taken care of? Are your assets protected? All these questions and more are important and it’s never too early to start thinking about it. If you’re thinking “do I need a will?”, then you’re at the first step of the process.
If you’re wondering whether you need a will, keep reading to find out why you should.
1. If You’re Married
If you’re married, you should have a will to protect and help care for your spouse. In the case of your death before theirs, you should put into writing what you want them to receive.
If you don’t have a will, your spouse would be likely to inherit your assets when you die. But there’s a chance they might not, so don’t leave it all to chance. Also, if there’s someone else you want to inherit your assets, you need to include them in the will.
You’ll need a will attorney to help you draft and finalize your will, but once it’s done, you’ll have peace of mind.
2. You Have Children
If you also have children, you will need to make a will. Your children are likely to inherit your assets after your spouse, but this isn’t a guarantee.
If you want your children to inherit after, or before, your spouse, you need to put into a will. Things could get messy in court if this isn’t done, so make sure you do it before you die. If you have a child you don’t want to inherit anything, you need to put this in writing too.
A will is also important if your kids die before they become adults. You can name an executor of your estate as well as a guardian for your kids, who will be responsible for raising them.
3. You Have Elderly Parents
If you have elderly parents and you die before them, your will can help protect them. A will can help prevent them from losing their benefits from the government.
If you don’t include them and they get your life insurance payout, they could lose their benefits. A will will stop this from happening.
You can direct your assets to your parents in installments instead of a lump sum to help them in the long term. It will help to pay for any nursing home or care costs as well as general living expenses.
4. You Have Pets
If you have pets that will get left behind after you die, you will need to make a will. A will can help ensure they don’t end up in a shelter when you die.
In your will, you can choose someone to care for your pet after you pass. You can also set up a pet trust that will provide financial care for your pet once you go.
This will help to cover vet bills and standard maintenance costs of the animal.
Do I Need a Will? The Answer Is Yes
If you’ve been thinking to yourself “do I need a will?” and these points apply to you, the answer is yes. If these four points are things that you have in life, you need to make sure to write up a will as soon as possible.Want to learn more about trusts? Check out our blog post for the pros and cons of trusts.
Is it smarter to leave your home or land in a trust instead of a will? Here are the up- and downsides of putting your property in a trust to discuss with your attorney.
Do you know what’s going to happen to your land or property when you pass away?
While a will is better suited for smaller assets like your grandmother’s fine china, placing a home or vacation property in a trust may be more advantageous for everyone involved.
But they also present their own disadvantages too.
While there are several types of trusts, they all generally fall under two main umbrellas:
The Two Main Types Of Trusts
A trust is a legal document outlining how you’d like your property and other assets distributed after you die.
You can create:
A Revocable, or Living, Trust
A revocable or living trust allows you to maintain full legal control and ownership of the trust, including the properties and assets, until the time of your death.
This means you can add/remove assets or properties anytime you want, change beneficiaries, and even dissolve the whole thing should your situation change. Managing a revocable trust is much easier with the help of an estate planning lawyer.
However, since the property or land will technically remain in your possession, a revocable trust does not protect your assets from creditors hoping to seize them upon your death.
And it also doesn’t exempt your home from the estate tax.
These two downsides may be alleviated with an irrevocable trust.
An Irrevocable Trust
Irrevocable trusts pass the legal ownership of the trust, including the assets and properties, to a trustee.
It also puts the management of the trust on someone else’s shoulders, which may be needed in the case of incapacity as you near your final days.
An irrevocable trust works just like it sounds: once you and your financial advisor or attorney draft a final version, an irrevocable trust cannot ever be changed.
This means you won’t be able to add or remove assets and properties, or even dissolve the trust if you so wish.
Another key difference: a revocable trust keeps your assets tied to your estate.
But when you have an irrevocable trust, your property or land is essentially removed from your estate’s value, which means you’ll save money in taxes after your passing.
This is just one upside to consider; here are a few more.
The Pros of Putting Property In a Trust
You may want to consider leaving your family lake house or always-appreciating downtown property in a trust because:
Trusts Spare Your Loved Ones the Probate Process
Many people don’t know this, but if you leave property in a will, your family will need to go through the probate process before they’re allowed to claim it.
Probate is the court-supervised process of compiling a person’s assets, paying off bills and taxes, and distributing the remainder of the estate to rightful beneficiaries after one passes away.
If you have properties in different states, your loved ones will need to find attorneys in each state to deal with the different probate laws and fee structures.
Go with a trust and none of this will happen.
You outline who will receive your property and there’s never a probate process on your loved one’s plate.
No Hefty Probate or Attorney Fees
The cost of hiring different attorneys and the time expense of traveling back and forth for these court dates, which could take up to a year to finish, are bad enough.
But if you use able accountants and leave your property in a will and your beneficiaries need to go through probate, they’ll also have to pay probate costs which could total up to 3% of your asset’s value.
No probate, no probate costs with a trust.
In fact, you’ll take care of all the costs of your trust for your loved ones because you pay them upfront when your attorney creates it.
Trusts are Also Private
The probate process takes place in court and wills becomes public record after you pass away. So everyone you’ve ever known will be able to see who received what after your death.
Since trusts are taken care of outside the court system, none of this information will be made publicly available. Your beneficiaries can claim their inheritance without intrusion or fuss.
Your Beneficiary Receives Your Property Immediately
It could take weeks or a year for your intended to finally receive your property or land with a will as the probate process wraps up.
But your designated beneficiary will receive the property in a trust immediately. Plus, he or she can also sell the property if they so choose without going through the ordeal of selling a house during probate.
All these sound like wins.
Though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the few negatives as well.
The Cons of Putting Property In a Trust
You may not dig the fact that:
Setting Up a Trust is Slightly More Involved than a Simple Will
Due to the somewhat extensive paperwork you and your attorney will need to file, the trust creation process can take more time than a standard will. It also increases the more properties or assets you’ll need to transfer ownership over to.
Which leads us to…
Assets Must Be Retitled In the Name of the Trust
When you leave assets in a trust, you’ll need to retitle them in the name of your trust.
If you skip this important step, your property may not go to the rightful inheritor after you pass and your beneficiaries will need to comply with the choice a probate court selects.
Remember, you may lose control of your properties after you transfer ownership, depending on the type of trust you choose.
This detail might create issues with your homeowner’s insurance and title insurance as these may no longer be in your name.
You’ll want to speak with your insurance company to find out:
- If or how your trust will change your policy
- Whether your title insurance will still cover you for liens, easements, etc.
So now that you know more about why you may want to put your property in a trust, the next step is discussing your thoughts with an expert.
Is a Trust Right for You?
Everyone has a unique financial situation; a solid strategy for some may not be the best move for you.
That’s why working with a financial advisor and attorney you trust is so crucial for your estate planning.
You’ll want someone to deeply asses your portfolio and goals to figure out if putting your property in a trust is the optimal solution for your needs.
So start looking for a professional with years of experience handling trusts and wills to help you make the right decision for your loved ones today.
Many spouses take out life insurance plans and list themselves as beneficiaries to pensions, 401k plans, and other retirement benefits. The idea is to provide protection to the spouse and family in the event of a death. A divorce, especially if one of the spouses remarries, dramatically changes the couple’s original estate plan. While the divorce is underway, each spouse has certain rights to retirement accounts and each must meet his or her legal obligations until a divorce settlement is reached.
A time will come when assets get divided. Soon thereafter, the estate plan needs to be revised. Below is a list of four things a divorced spouse should do to get his or her estate plan updated to reflect the end of the marriage. Check back next week for four additional strategies for estate planning during a divorce.
- Update health care proxy: If you listed your former spouse as the person you authorize to make health care decisions for you, you will need to choose a new decision maker.
- Revoke power of attorneys: If you and your spouse have executed powers of attorney, you will need to make changes. You can revoke the power of attorney, execute a new one, and be required to notify your ex-spouse of the revocation.
- Automatic restraining orders: When you file for divorce, an automatic restraining order is placed on your assets. Neither spouse can change beneficiary designations while the divorce is pending absent written agreement.
- Update your will: Remove your current spouse from your will and appoint a new executor or person responsible for distributing your gifts following your death. If you have young children, think about guardianship options and naming an alternate guardian, in the event your former spouse dies or loses custody of the children at a future date.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney in New Jersey
One of the last things people think about when they are getting a divorce is updating or creating an estate plan. Estate planning is not something you undertake for yourself alone. You do it for your loved ones to help your family after you pass away. Your ex-spouse may no longer be in the picture, so thinking about and updating your estate plan should be an immediate step following your divorce. The Giro Law Firm serves the Bergen County, New Jersey community and surrounding areas. We help individuals with all of their estate planning needs, including the drafting of wills. Make sure that your belongings are left to the people or organizations that you choose with limited headaches and fees for them to receive your gift. A will is not the only thing an estate planning attorney can help with. Talk to an Estate Planning Attorney in New Jersey today about powers of attorney, health care proxies, and Medicaid planning for long term medical care.
The Giro Law Firm is a New Jersey and New York law firm located in Newark, NJ that handles a wide range of legal matters that affect the elderly and disabled populations, including retirement, guardianship, health care, long term care planning, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, among other legal services. To request a consultation with an Estate Planning and Divorce Attorney New Jersey, click here or call (201) 690-1642.