Consider Divorce Mediation Comments Off on Consider Divorce Mediation

Consider Divorce Mediation

Posted by in Divorce Lawyers

            Divorce can be messy. We have all heard the war stories about it. It can become a tangled mess, fighting over who gets what. It makes an already uncomfortable situation worse, not to mention the expense of lawyers and court hearings. Luckily there are alternatives to make the process a little easier. Divorce mediation.

Divorce mediation is one of the most widely used options in divorce. When considering the cost of a court hearing or a trial, divorce mediation is at more inexpensive option. Not only does it save money, but it can be a more peaceful way of settling a divorce. So, what does divorce mediation involve?

Divorce Mediation – Breaking It Down

Divorce mediation involves you, your soon-to-be ex-spouse, a mediator you have hired, and possibly your respective attorneys. The whole idea of divorce mediation is to find a way to resolve the issues in your divorce, such as custody and property settlement. The good thing about a divorce mediator is that they are completely neutral. A divorce mediator is independent and does not work for either side.

A divorce mediator is a buffer and meant to help keep you focused on the matter at hand. It is easy to get caught up in the emotions during a divorce, so having a mediator there helps keep a realistic view on things.


How Divorce Mediation Helps

A divorce mediator can also help you and your ex-spouse come up with some ideas that you both can agree on. This makes negations go faster, and settlements happen sooner in most cases.

There are some things to think about when considering a divorce attorney:

  • Divorce mediations are confidential- with the personal nature of divorce, it is important to feel secure that what is discussed is kept private. In a court hearing or trial, it is considered public domain, so the records are public.
  • Divorce mediations end in a settlement a majority of the time- Because you and your ex-spouse are able to work with the mediator to form a plan, settlements are easier to come to.
  • You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse retain control- No one wants someone else to decide what happens with some of the most important things in your life.  You and your ex=spouse make the decisions about how your divorce is handled with the help of the divorce mediator.
  • You are still able to have your lawyers present with you- although you have the choice to attend divorce mediation without your lawyer, they are also allowed to be present during mediation if it makes you feel more comfortable.
  • Divorce mediation is quicker- A typical divorce trial can last up to 18 months or longer in some cases. With divorce mediation, the average length of a divorce settlement is 4-20 sessions.
  • Divorce mediation can improve communication- One of the best parts of divorce mediation is that it can improve communication between you and your ex-spouse which can make things much easier, especially if there are children are involved.
  • Divorce mediation is less expensive- with the average divorce by trial costs about $15,000, mediation is about one third the cost.
Divorce mediation can be an excellent solution.
Divorce mediation can be an excellent solution.

Cost-effective and Simple

Divorce is hard enough, especially on the children. It is emotional, chaotic, and messy. There’s nothing worse than making a tense situation more difficult, especially when it doesn’t need to be. Mediation is always an option, and you should discuss every option with your lawyer. Taking the opportunity to make it easier on your family by going through divorce mediation can cause a lot less stress and anxiety, especially for the children. While divorce mediation is only one of the options available, it may be the best when considering all the factors.

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Setting Up A Trust for Your Children Comments Off on Setting Up A Trust for Your Children

Setting Up A Trust for Your Children

Posted by in Smart Legal Tips

Most people think that creating a trust is only for the wealthy. This could not be further from the truth. While setting up a trust may not be an ideal solution for everyone, it’s a highly valuable tool in estate planning.

A trust can circumvent the probate process, distribute assets to children and minor, and legally control the assets even after you’ve passed away. In certain scenarios, a trust can lower the estate taxes. Creating a trust can also protect your assets from liabilities, lawsuits, and personal creditors.

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Why Your Trust and Estate Planning Attorney is Vital Comments Off on Why Your Trust and Estate Planning Attorney is Vital

Why Your Trust and Estate Planning Attorney is Vital

Posted by in Probate Legal Guidance

Think of your life as a business. If you were selling a business, you would hire a broker to help you. When you no longer need your belongings, a trust and estate planning attorney helps ensure they go where you want them to. You’ve spent years acquiring assets, building up equity in relationships, and maintaining an estate of physical and emotional property that you want to be able to leave in the best care when you no longer need it.

Structuring your life like a business can show you why your estate planning attorney is vital – because your estate plan is vital. Who will benefit from your hard work? Are you sure that the people or organizations that you want to become caretakers of your assets will become caretakers of your assets? Don’t wonder – make it happen.

An Estate Plan Protects Your Loved Ones

After a death, even when a person has a last will and testament in place, the state will want to examine the person’s belongings and assets – known as the person’s “estate” – to determine its taxable value. Some property, such as “real estate” – which is estate properties with “real” properties attached, such as land and houses – can be eligible for state and federal taxes when its ownership changes. Even when that change is due to someone’s death.

Protect Your Beneficiaries

Who are your beneficiaries? Who are the people you want to leave your belongings to? The people who will become the caretakers of your property and able to benefit from it? You obviously want to protect them, and speaking with a trust and estate planning attorney can help you do that. If you leave the property value designation up to someone else, namely, the state, your loved ones are eligible to be at risk to have to pay more than necessary for the property they receive.

Trust and estate planning attorneys offer many services.
Trust and estate planning attorneys offer many services.

Reduce their stress

And of course, they’ll be in the middle of grieving, dealing with a traumatic life-changing event. Do you want them to have to endure the emotional stress of probate while they could be going through a difficult emotional time? Of course not.

Protect Your Property

In some cases, property that you’ve worked hard to acquire, maintain, grow, and advance, could become property of the state or of a neutral third party whom you didn’t delegate. Then, it’s at risk of being completely mistreated! If you’ve worked hard your whole life to acquire a house, other real estate properties, business investments, or even international properties and investments, you want to make sure that it ends up in the hands of someone who will care about managing it well and won’t mismanage it and squander your hard work. A trust and estate planning attorney can help you do this – ensure that your property ends up in the best hands to manage and maintain your legacy through it.

Plan right with your trust and estate planning attorney and reduce your taxes.

Reduce Estate Taxes

Overall, the bottom line of speaking with an attorney is to make sure that all your paperwork is set up well enough so that the tax burden is reduced for your beneficiaries. The people who receive your property after your death, the people who can become ensured to it through the estate structure, will ultimately have to pay some amount of taxes, and may be responsible for ensuring that the property passes from them to the next person with minimal tax transfers when that happens. However, if you make it as easy as possible for them at the beginning, they can keep it going.

Ensure Future Help from Your Trust and Estate Planning Attorney

The best part of having an established relationship with an attorney during the estate planning process is that person becomes a quick and easy reference for your beneficiaries to utilize during the estate transfer. Your attorney should be able to answer all their questions and help them transition into setting up the estate how it will be most beneficial to them, including looking ahead to make it a part of their own estate.

Considerations for the Best Trust and Estate Planning Attorney

Choose an attorney with plenty of experience all types of estate planning. Someone who has seen different types of situations before will know how to handle yours, and you can be assured they will be able to handle anything that comes up in the future. The best trust and estate planning attorneys haven’t necessarily done it all yet, but they’re willing to learn how to handle anything that comes their way.  

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What It Takes to Be a Child Visitation Attorney Comments Off on What It Takes to Be a Child Visitation Attorney

What It Takes to Be a Child Visitation Attorney

Posted by in Probate Law

As a family lawyer, you deal with a lot of issues surrounding children and their safety. As a child visitation attorney, you’ve specialized even more. You’ve learned to detect the safest, legal, and fairest situations, and you’ve learned to take all the factors into consideration when building a case and presenting it for a decision. But how did you get there?

If you’re considering becoming a child visitation attorney, there’s a few things you can do to set yourself on the right path toward a successful future.

Start With an Education

First, to become an attorney of any type, you will need a college education and a Juris Doctorate (JD) degree from an accredited university. Most people complete these studies in about 7 years total, although some can complete their degrees in less time, and some people take a bit longer. On average, an undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degree, takes about 4 years to complete, and a JD takes another three.

What to Study in Undergrad

You don’t need a pre-law undergraduate degree in order to become an attorney – or even to get accepted to law school. People from all types of undergraduate studies, including psychology, literature, business, and social work can go to law school. As long as you have studied hard and are able to show the law schools you apply to how your undergraduate education applies to the area of law you want to specialize in, you should have a good chance to get accepted.

If you’re considering a career as a child visitation attorney, you might pursue a bachelor’s in child psychology, family studies, or even history.

studying to become child visitation attorney

Do you need a Master’s?

That’s up to you and how much time you want to spend in school. No, you don’t need a Master’s degree after your undergraduate degree. You can apply to law school without one – and it may not even necessarily help you get into law school. But, if you want to undertake advanced studies in a specific field before you become a child visitation attorney, you can certainly pursue graduate education.

Study for the LSAT

One of the biggest factors that contributes to being accepted to law school is your performance on the standardized legal graduate test – the LSAT. Don’t take it lightly. Check into the law schools that interest you and find out what their acceptance standards are, including the average LSAT score of their recent students. This should give you a good idea of what you need to achieve.

Complete your Juris Doctorate

Once you’ve gotten into law school – don’t let your passion let up! You will have opportunities to take courses that expose you directly to the laws that a child visitation attorney needs to know. And you will also have opportunities to study areas of law that interest you, but you’re not going to directly pursue. The better you apply yourself to your studies in your JD program, the more likely you will be to enjoy success in your career.

Graduation from child visitation attorney schooling

Get Your License to Practice Law

In the states where you plan to practice as a licensed attorney, there will be specific requirements for you to present and market yourself as a full attorney. Generally, the licensing exams – commonly referred to as “the Bar” or “the Bar Exam” – are regularly scheduled and you will have ample time to study and prepare for the exam. You don’t need to work with a local attorney to prepare to become licensed in any particular state, but it can certainly help.

Child Visitation Attorney Experience

All the while, as you’re becoming educated, you will probably have many opportunities to directly work with legal clients. Perhaps you can get an internship or part-time employment in a law firm, social work office, or with a volunteer organization.

It’s not necessary to have this experience to get into law school after undergraduate school. And it’s not necessary to have this experience to pass the Bar after law school. And it’s not necessary to have this experience after passing the bar in order to start your career. But any step along the way, it is valuable to have experience you can apply to the next stage of your career.

To prepare for a career as a child visitation attorney, seek out experience working with children, their parents, and the legal system. You won’t regret it.

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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 Legal 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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