Posts by Daniel L. Fischer

What Is Probate? Comments Off on What Is Probate?

What Is Probate?

Posted by in Probate Law

Probate is a legal concept that many people have heard about, and many are even afraid of, without understanding exactly what process is, how it works, and how to prepare for it. If you’re asking yourself “What is probate?” there are a few key things you should know.

Probate is a legal process

You may have heard of “probate court” and immediately pictured people in handcuffs, dramatic scenes of relatives crying, and a judge who reads out legalese from a high podium. In trust, most probate legal proceedings are nothing like TV courtroom dramas.

For one, probate tends to be a rather dignified and restrained process. Since most people who are involved in probate court are going through a stressful emotional experience to begin with, the court is designed to make the process less dramatic.

Probate involves multiple steps through the legal system.
Probate involves multiple steps through the legal system.

That’s not to say that probate isn’t stressful – it requires legal documentations, scheduled hearings with attorneys, and can often involve intense emotions.

Probate doesn’t begin at death

When someone passes away, their properties and assets have to now legally belong to someone new. But who?

Many people expressly want their assets distributed in a specific way, and to prepare for the inevitability of death, they prepare a Last Will and Testament. Often, with the help of an estate planning attorney.

Last Will & Testament

When a person is still of legally sound mind, they can document their wishes for their property after their death in a formal document. Some people write a very simple will, leaving a lump total of their assets to one or a few people. Other people make detailed and explicit Wills that spell out particulars of accounts, real estate, stocks, physical property, and cash value that they want distributed to loved ones or charities.

A Last Will & Testament also often includes directions for a person’s burial, cremation, or other arrangements, as well as important information like passwords, PIN numbers, or other information to allow a person’s important data be accessed after their death.

Living Revocable Trust

In addition to a Last Will & Testament, there is another type of document that helps determine the legal ownership of property easier. Instead of, or in addition to, a Will, many people also choose to establish a Living Trust that places their assets under an umbrella. The person chooses a beneficiary (or several) or their assets, as well as a neutral third person to manage the assets within the trust.

We like to say that probate “doesn’t begin at death” because there are many things a person can do to well before they get close to death to prepare for asset ownership distribution in probate.

During grief is not the time you want to deal with estate management.
During grief is not the time you want to deal with estate management.

Probate is Costly

Many people are afraid of probate because they’ve heard that people can “lose everything” or that probate is so costly that there’s nothing left afterward.

While this is an exaggeration, there is some truth to the idea that probate costs a significant amount of money that you’d probably rather not pay, if you don’t have to.

By preparing for probate from the moment you own your first asset, you’ll reduce the cost of distributing your property after your death.

Probate involves legal fees

Probate involves lawyers. There’s really no way around it. At your death, if there is no direct and clear owner of your property, court-appointed lawyers will inventory your belongings, have them evaluated, determine who they should belong to, and distribute them accordingly. Your wishes, and your family’s wishes, may be given minimal consideration.

This is the most costly form of probate. In this situation, the court will repay itself for the trouble it goes through to evaluate and distribute your property. Often, this results in high court fees and extensive legal fees, especially if you had a lot of assets that take a long time to compile and distribute.

If you prepare your own legal documents in order to reduce the cost of probate court proceedings, you will still be paying legal fees, but it will be to an attorney that you trust, in order to make sure that your wishes are executed properly.

Probate involves taxes

Property taxes, estate taxes, inheritance taxes – oh my! There are many ways that your assets might be evaluated and taxed, depending on what types of assets you have and who is doing the evaluation. Don’t let someone who doesn’t know you, your situation, or the nuances of your finances, determine how everything you’ve worked your whole life for gets taxed.

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Avoid These Common Estate Planning Mistakes Comments Off on Avoid These Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Avoid These Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Posted by in Smart Tips

Many people think that having an estate plan is just for the rich – this could not be further from the truth. A majority of us have at least one of these three substantial assets: a car, a home, or money in a bank account. And many people can benefit from working with a trusted attorney for wills and trusts to establish an estate plan.

An estate plan can help maximize the value of your assets; these assets are what you will pass on to your beneficiaries and heirs when the inevitable comes. Aside from this, an estate plan also allows you to make informed decisions and better understand the process while you are still alive.

In today’s post, let’s talk about the common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to creating an estate plan.

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What’s It Like for a Custodial Parent Comments Off on What’s It Like for a Custodial Parent

What’s It Like for a Custodial Parent

Posted by in Family and Children Topics

With divorce proceedings for couples with children come the critical topic of child custody. And shared custody is not usually the best for the child or children involved. Thus, the concept of custodial parenting has been introduced. It consists in getting custody of a child or children for most of the time. To be the primary guardian needs knowledge and research about your jurisdiction’s laws. Child custody lawyers are the ones better equipped to guide you through this process.

In today’s post, we’ve compiled some tips to guide you to be the custodial parent of your child or children.

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Social Media and Your Personal Injury Claim Comments Off on Social Media and Your Personal Injury Claim

Social Media and Your Personal Injury Claim

Posted by in Smart Tips

Today, social media has become a vital part of everyone’s life. According to the Pew Research Center, over 65 percent of American adults use social media every day. Social networking sites are avenues where people post photos, communicate with friends and family, and share their experiences. If you are involved in an accident and have an injury claim, personal injury lawyers will highly recommend you be mindful of your social media postings.

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Battling Brain Disorders While Managing Assets Comments Off on Battling Brain Disorders While Managing Assets

Battling Brain Disorders While Managing Assets

Posted by in Properly Managing Assets

Unfortunately, brain disorders are a growing possibility of aging. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia can render an individual incapable of thinking clearly, making decisions, remembering things, and even controlling emotions. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and dementia in 2018.

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