You should fully understand the way assets are transferred after you pass away if you utilize a last will as the centerpiece of your estate plan. In the document, you name an executor or personal representative to distribute the resources to the heirs in accordance with your wishes. A common assumption is that this individual can act independently without any type of government supervision.
In fact, this is not the way it works. A will must be admitted to probate, and the probate court supervises the administration of the estate. There are rather complicated rules that must be followed, and depending on the nature of the estate, there can be many different business and finance related tasks that have to be completed. It is very difficult for an executor with no experience to negotiate these waters alone.
The assistance of a probate attorney can make things much easier for the estate administrator, and we would be more than glad to act as the probate lawyer after you pass away. In fact, if you engage our firm to create a last will, we would be ideally positioned to guide your executor through the probate process. You can simply instruct the person to contact us, and we will take care of the rest.
A probate lawyer can definitely facilitate a smooth passage through probate when there are no particular irregularities. At the same time, sometimes legal counsel becomes necessary during this process when unusual circumstances arise.
For example, a disgruntled party could step forward to challenge the validity of a last will during probate. If you feel as though a will that has been presented is invalid for some reason, we can evaluate the situation and advise you accordingly. On the other side of the spectrum, we can represent an estate that is being challenged.
If you have always been under the impression that you should use a last will as your asset transfer vehicle, you should take pause. While it is true that there are trusts that are used by high net worth individuals that have estate tax and other more complex concerns, there is a type of trust that can be the ideal alternative to a last will.
The estate planning vehicle that we are referring to is the revocable living trust. You may want to consider a living trust instead of a last will because of the fact that the postmortem asset transfers would not be subject to the probate process. Probate serves certain purposes, but it comes with drawbacks that negatively impact the rightful heirs.
A number of different expenses are incurred during probate, and this reduces the amount of the inheritances that will be received by the people that are named in the will. It is a time-consuming process that can take close to a year even if there are no complications, and the heirs cannot receive anything while the estate is being probated by the court. Plus, probate records are available to the general public, so you surrender privacy when your estate passes through the probate process.
With a living trust, you avoid all of these pitfalls, and there are added advantages. You maintain control of the trust throughout your life, and you can empower a disability trustee to manage the trust if you ever become incapacitated. It is also possible to arrange for the distributions to the beneficiaries to be spread out over time to prolong the viability of the trust.
If you do choose to utilize a living trust or any other type of trust, there will be trust administration matters to attend to after your passing. This is another service that we offer to our clients, and it can be invaluable, especially if you name a beneficiary that does not have any trust administration experience.
Schedule a Consultation!
We would be more than glad to get to know you, gain an understanding of your wishes, and help you create a custom crafted estate plan that is ideal for you and your family. You can schedule a consultation right now if you call us at 512-478-3800, and you can click this link to send us a message electronically.