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Estate Planning and Will Preparation
There are a large number of Americans who do not have a last will and testament. Contemplating one’s own death is difficult, and many people are unsure about how best to disperse their assets. The highly mobile nature of many families and the different types of family units complicates the process further for many. Extended families, second and third families, children from a first marriage, courtesy aunts or uncles and other relations create legal complexities. Family issues may be exacerbated when someone dies without a will or with a will that is improperly written and can be contested.
I help individuals and couples in creating simple and complex wills that are tailored to their specific needs. If you need assistance with your last will and testament, you can trust that I will create a document with a foundation that will hold up in probate court, should it be contested. I will listen and ensure that your will truly reflects your wishes for asset transfers, minimization of creation of testamentary trusts, naming of guardians for minor children and other issues.
The All Powerful Revocable Living Trust
Make Your Wishes Known With the Help of an Estate Planning Attorney.
There are do-it-yourself will kits on the market, but I strongly discourage you from using them. The kits do not deal with your specific family situations, your specific assets, your financial portfolio, adopted children, multiple marriages, common law spouses or other family arrangements. If you write out a will that is ultimately deemed to not be legal and executable, your assets will not be dispersed as you wish. Your family could be faced with extended, costly legal battles. For example, I recently had a case where the deceased had a will and a trust. He used an online service to create the documents. The will was challenged by an estranged daughter. The will was voided and the trust documents did not specify what would happen if there was no will. It should have said that all of the assets not titled in the trust would pour over into the trust. An experienced estate attorney would have made certain that it did. Instead the majority of his assets went through the probate process which allowed his daughter to inherit the majority of his estate even though that is the opposite of what he wanted.
If you want a will that will stand up in court, or up against a challenge by someone, then consult
with an experienced lawyer.
Once you and your estate planning attorney have drafted a will, you should revisit it as you
experience life changes. The law, your financial circumstances, your family circumstances and
your objectives will evolve over time. For example, when you first wrote your will, you
may have been married but are now divorced. You may have adopted children or become the
guardian for an elder family member. A will can be updated by creating a new will or by adding
an amendment to the will (known as a codicil). Wills and codicils must be drafted and witnessed
in specific ways to be valid. I can advise you on the relevant rules.
Be sure to choose a trusted executor to carry out your wishes. Consider appointing successor
executors to make sure the will is properly executed should the primary executor become unable
to perform his or her duties. If you are married, you may also want to discuss potential outcomes
should you and your spouse both die at the same time.
Too many people believe that wills are only for the rich. This is not the case. Everyone can
benefit from a properly drafted will.
My law firm focuses on your family. Contact me to discuss your case. I am always happy to speak with you.