Inevitably, after a client has passed away, a family member will call and ask, “Will there be a reading of the Last Will?” The answer is: only if the family wants it. The “reading of the will” is generally something you only see in the movies. It adds to the movie drama (cue the music), when the son finds out in front of the family he has been disinherited.
When preparing an estate plan, it’s important to understand the difference between probate and non-probate assets. Probate is probably one of the most misunderstood areas in estate planning. People often say, “How can I avoid probate?” However, most people do not know what probate is. Probate is a court administered process that determines how your probate property will be distributed after you die.
When a loved one passes away, undoubtedly you will wonder what you need to do. First, you’ll make the necessary funeral or memorial arrangements. Then, we recommend taking care of yourself and your family. If your loved one passed after a prolonged illness, you may just need to take a break.
I just received a call from a local realtor. She was understandably concerned because a purchase and sale transaction she was working on had stalled. The reason: the property was owned by an unmarried couple and one of the partners had recently died.
Does your family know where your most up to date estate planning documents are located? If you signed a will in 1985 and put it in your safe deposit box, signed a new will in 2001 and put it in your desk at home, told your son about one, told your daughter about the other, they may be confused. The attorney information on each document is different.
Bob and Suzy get divorced. Suzy has an adult child, Annie, from a prior relationship. As part of the marital settlement agreement, Bob is supposed to sign a deed conveying his interest in their homestead to Suzy. Suzy is supposed to get a new home loan in her individual name.
Let’s say there is a “traditional” scenario where the husband, Jim, works outside of the home and his wife, Annie, takes care of the children and the home. In this “traditional” scenario, Jim feels it is his responsibility to provide for his family and, as part of that, to take care of all the finances.