Wills and Probate

Wills and Probate

In an age of do-it-yourself legal services, it can be tempting to try and handle common legal matters ourselves, especially in a recession. When it comes to wills and probate issues, this can be a big mistake. After all, the cheapest option isn’t always best. Would you want to jump out of a plane with a discount parachute? Probating A Will Wills and probate attorneys focus on issues associated with wills, disputes and the process of distributing a deceased person’s property. This process is generally known as probate or “probating a will”. The Probate Process The probate process is much more complicated than you might think. It definitely involves more than simply writing down what you want to leave to whom. There is a host of legal and tax issues that need to be addressed by a licensed professional familiar will the wills law in your state. At minimum, this can ensure your will is legal. Ideally, the will lawyer’s interaction can help make sure your wishes are fulfilled to the fullest extent allowed by the laws of your state. At the very least, an estate planning attorney can save your family from some unpleasant surprises after you are gone. You owe it to your loved ones to hire a professional to help navigate the ins and outs of will and probate issues. The time to prepare is now. Seize the day; tomorrow may be too late.

There are lots of reasons to write a will, but worrying about the state snatching your family’s inheritance is not one of them. If you die without a valid will (the legal term for this is dying “intestate”), then state law kicks in. Every state has its own rules for who inherits what. Generally, your spouse and children are first in line to inherit. The rules vary from state to state, however; in some states, a surviving spouse and minor children share the deceased parent’s assets. (And there’s a good reason to write a will: you don’t want your eight-year-old to inherit a quarter of your bank accounts, do you?) So do assets ever go to the state? Yes, but only when no relatives can be found. As long as your personal representative (the person in charge of wrapping up your estate) can turn up your uncle’s long-lost grandchild, the state won’t get your money. The term for this is called “escheat,” and there’s a reason you’ve probably never heard that word—escheat is very rare.