Types of Wills to Think About (Part I)

Most people do not realize it, but there are many different types of wills that one can make. One will may or may not be enough, depending on your individual wants and needs. While it is possible to make a will on the internet, you should really consult a lawyer to make sure that you and your family are protected when you pass away.

Here are some of the types of wills that you can make.

Wills made by an attorney are your best bet to make sure that your wishes are going to be carried out. An attorney will ensure that the will is legally binding, and tailored to your exact wishes.

Simple wills can be made when you don’t have a lot of assets and it won’t be complicated. There are forms that you can fill out or you can copy a form and just fill it out!

Joint wills are wills made by married couples, who plan to leave everything to their spouse. It also speculates how they want their assets divided once they are both gone.

Handwritten wills, or holographic wills, are wills that you write in your own handwriting.  Some people don’t want much fuss, even for their wills. However, these are not accepted in all states, and states that do accept them have varying additional requirements. You need to make sure that your state accepts a handwritten will before you pass, and ensure all other conditions can be met.

Spoken wills are not acceptable in Texas, and scarcely accepted elsewhere.  They are obviously called this because they are spoken instead of written. For this reason, they are only allowed in emergency situations, and even then, not universally.

Contact us to see what would be the best will for you and your family.

Four More Reasons To Make a Will Today

Many people put off making a will because they feel like they have plenty of time left. However, it is important because, if you have children, you need to decide who you want to care for them, if something happens to you. You can also decide who you want to get your things (and who you don’t).

Here are some more reasons that you need to make a will today.

  • With a living will, you can make your wishes know about prolonging your life. Many people have specific thoughts about how far they want doctors to go in unfortunate circumstances. Do you want to be kept alive on respirators? Would you rather have your family pull determine when to end care? If so, you need to make your wishes known in a living will.
  • A will makes everything go more smoothly. If you love your family, be sure to have a will. If you are afraid that your family is going to fight over every little thing that you own, make sure that you have a highly detailed will. Why make your family argue with each other if they don’t have to?
  • When you make a will, it can help reduce taxes.  A well thought out and drafted estate plan can help reduce taxes owed by the estate.  Why pay more money if you don’t have to?
  • When you have a will, your estate can be settled quicker, allowing your family to start the healing process faster. If you don’t have a will and your family starts to fight, your estate can take months or even years to settle. Do you want that to happen?

It is important to have a living will, in case you are in an accident. Do you really want your children to have to decide about your medical health when they are already worried about you? A regular will is also important because it helps speed up the settlement of your estate, allowing your family to start to heal faster. You don’t really want it dragged out for months or even years, do you? Don’t you want your family to be able to get on with their lives?

Contact us for all of your legal needs.

Five Reasons to Make Your Will Today

Most people don’t think that they need to worry about making a will, at least not today. They figure that they have plenty of time later to make one. However, it is very important, especially once you have children.

No matter what stage of life you are in, there are many reasons that you need to make a will today.  Here are 5 good reasons to start today:

  • When you make a will, you can decide who will care for your children until they reach a legal age. You can also decide how they are supported financially. Be sure to talk to the potential guardians. You do not want to spring this on a friend or other family member, should you suddenly pass away.
  • If you are not married but have a long-term partner, you should put them in a will. Otherwise, your family might choose to forget about the commitment that you have made. Dividing up assets can get ugly in death and wills can make the process go much smoother.
  • You should make a will if you have certain things that you want to go to certain people. A will helps to make sure that your final wishes are carried out. It is also helpful to make sure that you find someone that you trust to carry out your final wishes.
  • If there are people that you don’t want to inherit things, you definitely need to have a will. There are times when you may lose contact with people and do not want them to get any part of  your estate. If that happens, you need to make sure that you have a will so your wishes are followed, in either direction. Be sure to check your will often and update it as needed.
  • If you have a will, you know that your family is going to be taken care of and you can enjoy the rest of your life with that knowledge. This sounds like the best reason of all.

It is important to have a will so you make sure that your family is taken care of. Your children will be cared for by someone that you choose for them. You can also make sure that your things go to the people that you want them to go to. A will also keeps people from getting things that you don’t want them to have. Once you make your will, you can enjoy the rest of your life, knowing that your family will be taken care of!

Contact us for all of your legal needs.

Determining the Truth with Estate Litigation

Estate planning is something that we often don’t give enough thought. At some point in our lives we have the documents prepared and leave it that. Proper estate planning requires updating your documents with every major life event. When documents are not updated properly, administering of your Estate can become a battle. Often, settling an estate ends in litigation because documents were not updated to best reflect the intentions of those who have passed away.

According to  forbes.com the Estate of actor, Gary Coleman was a tough one to decide.

Mr. Coleman had his estate planning documents up to date in 2005, naming his friend, and former head of his corporation, Anna Gray as his beneficiary and executor of his Estate. Coleman was married to Shannon Price in 2007, and soon after the marriage, he signed a handwritten codicil, thereby amending his original will. In 2008 Coleman and Price were divorced, but his will was never updated to reflect this event. When Coleman died it was difficult to determine who his beneficiary actually was.

The preceding Judge held a trial to determine what type of marriage, if any,  Price and Coleman had. In the end, the Judge ruled in favor of Anna Gray. Was this ruling what Coleman really wanted? No one will ever know the answer to that question.

Finally, in order to ensure that your wishes are met after your death, make sure you keep all of your estate planning documents up to date. You never know when your last day will be, don’t put off having your documents updated.

For more information on estate planning, please contact us.

Does Your Estate Plan Reflect The Addition Of Your New Baby?

If you are preparing to become a parent for the first time, you are probably already dealing with an overwhelming and stressful experience because there are many things you have to get done. This also means there are some things you will have to put on hold while you prepare for the baby’s arrival.

Unfortunately, this means you will not have the time or patience to deal with things that should not be ignored. One of the important things you should not ignore is estate planning. There are some common estate planning mistakes that many new parents make, but you still have time to avoid these mistakes.

Not Making Changes To The Will

When the baby finally arrives, you should update your will as soon as possible. We never know when accidents can happen to us, and this is why it is important to add the new addition to your family in your will. If something was to happen to you, and your last will has not been updated to reflect your baby’s birth, your child may have to jump through hoops just to receive his or her inheritance. You can save your family plenty of headaches and confusion by updating your will after you give birth to the new baby.

Forgetting To Name A Person As the Legal Guardian

We do not want to think about leaving this world while our children are still at a young age. Unfortunately, this happens to many families. After you have a baby, you should always be prepared to ask a person you trust to be the legal guardian if something happens to you. The judge will have to give a confirmation of the person you choose, but your request for the legal guardian will usually be granted. We understand you do not want to hurt any of your friends’ or family members’ feelings, but you have to choose the best person you know who will take care of your children the same way you would.

If you are about to become a new parent, then this certainly is an exciting time for you. However, you should never overlook the importance of updating your estate plan to reflect your new family. If you need to update your last will and testament or your estate plan, contact us today for additional information.

What Is a Will Contest?

Estate litigation is a legal process that is performed when a dispute exists after a person dies. The total of that person’s assets, called their estate, is entered into probate, where the estate is collected and valued. Once the estate has entered into probate, anyone who has a claim against the estate—either that the deceased owed them money or that they disagree with something about the way the estate is managed—then they can take that claim to court. A will contest is when a claim is made against the deceased’s will, either to prevent it from entering into probate in the first place or to remove it from probate once it has already entered.

One of the most common reasons for a will contest is a lack of capacity. If someone thinks that the deceased did not have the mental capacity to create an accurate and aware last will and testament, they will contest the will in court. The other primary reason for a will contest is the suspicion of undue influence. If there is suspicion that the deceased was manipulated or misled during the production of the will, a claim of undue influence can be made, which would also lead to arguing the case in court.

Once a will contest has been made, court proceedings ensue similarly to usual, with lawyers arguing in favor of upholding the will and in favor of eschewing the will. If the will contest is successful, the will is ruled null and void.  If the contest is unsuccessful the will stands. Multiple contests can be made against the same will if there are multiple valid claims.

Contact us for more information about estate litigation and planning.

Using The Law To Ensure Your Last Wishes Are Met

Many people put off estate planning because of unease, but forming an estate plan gives you control, which is also valuable if sickness or incapacity prevents you from being able to communicate your wishes. Here are some tips recommended by CNBC when putting your affairs in order:

Seek Help: It is not difficult to leave behind instructions for one’s passing when using an attorney with a strong understanding of estate planning law, but mistakes frequently happen when couples and individuals try to handle estate planning alone. Having an attorney ensure that everything is legal and in order is the best way to make sure your wishes are met.

Be Specific:

You should not forget the little things when crafting your will or trust as many people forget items that are not always monetarily expensive, but have sentimental value. Emotions can run high when a parent dies, so children might fight over jewelry, cookware or cherished possessions because they want something special to help them remember mom or dad. Designating specific items to friends and family may prevent fighting later.

Communicate: Being specific is only helpful if people can read your last wishes, so make copies of wills and trusts or tell someone exactly where the documents are kept. If your loved ones are searching for the correct safe deposit box or scouring the attic for your will, there is no guarantee they will find your burial instructions or other important notes in time.

To discuss estate planning and preparing for your future and passing, contact us today so that we can help ensure your wishes are met.