Estate Planning Lawyer Gilbert, AZ
As an Estate Planning Lawyer in Gilbert, AZ from Citadel Law Firm, PLLC understands, estate planning can be a very personal and sensitive topic. Many people shy away from thinking about and taking action on their future, specifically, their death. It’s not a fun topic but it’s a necessary topic. Without proper planning, you could leave your family and loved ones with a mess. Using Citadel Law Firm, PLLC gives you access to many years of experience helping clients navigate the tough waters of estate planning. You need someone you can trust to help you create an estate plan that achieves your goals and protects your assets and heirs.
What is a Will?
A last will and testament is a legal document that allows you to direct how your assets and liabilities are handled at your death. A will is an important document in your estate plan. With a will, you can direct that your personal representative gives certain assets to specific people after your passing. If you have a niece who loves your collection of crystal ware, you can leave those items specifically to her. If your son loves the watch you wear each day, you can leave the watch to him.
We cannot emphasize enough how imperative it is that you include names of who gets what assets. If you don’t, your personal representative may not distribute your belongings the way you intend.
What is a Living Will?
A living will is another integral piece of your complete estate plan. However, a living will does not distribute your assets or discuss how to handle your liabilities. A living will gives you the opportunity to determine what you want for end of life care. A living will allows you to guide doctors and loved ones should you be incapacitated and not able to tell them what you want for care.
By describing these preferences in your living will, it ensures your wishes are met. It’s also good practice to discuss this with your spouse or other trusted family member so they can see to it that your wishes are followed too.
Do I Need Both?
Yes, a Gilbert, AZ Estate Planning Lawyer may recommend having both a living will and a last will and testament as part of your complete estate plan. Your will helps to determine which of your heirs receive your belongings, and your living will helps to make sure the end of life care you receive is exactly what you want and not the decision of anyone else.
When engaged in the settling of an estate, it’s very common for the individuals involved to be confused by the legal terms used. Below are explanations to the methods and estate planning tools available to you and which a Gilbert, Arizona estate planning lawyer can assist you and your family.
What is Probate?
Probate is a legal process that certain estates must go through when certain conditions are not met. For example, estates of a certain size whose owner died without a will or trust in place and as a result died intestate, may be forced to undergo probate. Probate is a court-ordered process overseen by a judge who will make important decisions about the estate that may or may not be reflective of the decedent’s final wishes.
However, without a will in place, it can be nearly impossible to honor an individual’s preferences after they pass away. This can be avoided by meeting with a Gilbert Estate Planning Lawyer from Citadel Law Firm, PLLC during one’s life in order to adequately provide for their heirs.
How Does Probate Work?
When you write a will, you will have to name an executor. This is a person who will oversee the entire process. He or she will have 30 days after the death to file the document with the court. If the decedent dies before identifying an executor, then the probate court may decide on one itself. Often, this is the person’s next of kin.
When Do I Need Probate?
Sometimes you do not need probate if you transfer property. Say that the property has a value below a certain amount. In some states, this property can be passed on without probate. If you have individual retirement accounts or 401(k) plans, then you do not have to go through the probate process. These assets go to the named beneficiary.
In addition, a person may choose a different estate plan. There are other strategies where someone can pass down his or her property without having to deal with probate later. Now, if someone puts a large amount of property in a will, then odds are probate is necessary to ensure that everyone receives a fair share.
How Can I Validate a Will?
As your AZ Estate Planning Lawyer in Gilbert may explain, once the decedent dies, the executor has to file the will with the probate court. In some instances, this person may also need to file the death certificate and petition to open probate. The judge will look at the will to determine if it has any validity. Often, there will be a hearing and all of the beneficiaries will look at the document. They may accept or deny what part they play in it. If someone contests the will, then the court has to figure out how to proceed.
To decide if a will is valid, there will be self-proving affidavits. The witnesses and will grantor sign off on the affidavits. These are usually all that’s needed to begin the process. Next, the executor will sign letters of authority and letters of administration. This is the executor agreeing to enter the probate process.
Probate is a complicated and long process. If you have any questions or if you have never navigated probate before, then it may help to have us to help you. In addition, if you plan to write a will, you will want to keep probate in mind.
What Property Can Be Included in a Probated Estate?
After a review of your case, you will have a clear understanding of which assets may be included in the probate process if you do not have the proper safeguards in place that Citadel Law Firm, PLLC can provide. As a general rule, if you own property at the time of your death and it is not included in a will with a named heir to inherit that asset, it will likely have to pass through probate. To help you understand which types of properties might be included in the probate process, here are some of the most common examples:
- Houses and property
- Checking, savings, and retirement accounts that do not have a designated beneficiary
To learn more about the beneficiary process and probate, talk to an Estate Planning Lawyer in AZ from Citadel Law Firm, PLLC today.
How Can I Protect My Family’s Interests?
Over the past several decades, it has become increasingly socially acceptable to live with one’s romantic partner, build a life together and have a family without ever taking the step of getting legally married. Couples choose to forgo legal marriage for all sorts of reasons, which is perfectly understandable and more than fine. But just as it is important for engaged couples to understand the legal consequences of getting married, it is important for unmarried couples to understand the legal consequences of remaining unmarried.
There is no need to take the step of getting legally wed if you choose not to. But you may need to take some other legal steps to safeguard your interests, your partner’s interests and your children’s interests if you and your partner share children together. Working with a member of our team can help you to protect your own interests and those of your family.
Cohabitation, Custody, and Support
Because the law doesn’t legally recognize your partner’s role in your life and in your children’s lives, it can benefit your family to speak with a member of our team about drafting a legally enforceable cohabitation agreement. Depending on your family’s unique needs, you can address virtually any subject matter within this document, provided that the law does not prohibit treatment of a specific point.
We can discuss with you topics such as child support sharing expectations, property-related matters, financial obligations and even parenting plan/custody issues when appropriate. Every family is different, so speaking with us can help you to be able to understand how this document could work to your particular family’s advantage on legal and practical levels.
Thinking Ahead: Estate Planning
When you are not married, your role in your partner’s life is not legally established. As a result, you may run into trouble down the road if you don’t embrace certain estate planning tools designed to ensure that your wishes are respected in the event that you suffer from an accident, become gravely ill or pass away. It is possible that if you do not legally name your partner as your power of attorney, etc. that you may not even be allowed to visit him or her in the hospital should an accident occur.
Similarly, should you pass away unexpectedly, your partner may have difficulty obtaining legally recognized ownership of half of your joint property. These are just two of the many challenges you (and your children) could face if you do not speak with an Arizona Estate Planning Lawyer about your estate planning needs.
Legal Support Is Available
If you have questions about any aspect of family law, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Too often, individuals and families only reach out for legal guidance when they are in trouble. In reality, all kinds of people may benefit from speaking with an attorney about the particulars of their situation. This is as true in regards to family life as it is in business. You do not need to be in a position to file a legal claim in order to benefit from legal counsel.
If you have questions about the legal side of parenting or romantic relationships, please consider connecting with a Gilbert, Arizona Estate Planning Lawyer at Citadel Law Firm, PLLC today.
Contact us Today
Our legal firm has been devoted to assisting individuals and families who need to protect their legacy on behalf of their heirs. Without such protection, when a person passes away without a will in place, their estate may be forced to go through probate and the heirs could be burdened with unnecessary fees and delays in receiving their inheritance. Our firm can help you avoid this scenario—call our office to request a free consultation to learn more about the legal services that we offer.
As your estate planning attorney, we can meet with you to get a complete understanding of your life and your goals. We know this topic is uncomfortable but we will do everything in our power to make sure your experience is pleasant and your goals are achieved. You deserve to use the services of a trusted and seasoned lawyer to guide you in putting your estate plan together. Contact an Arizona Estate Planning Lawyer in Gilbert from Citadel Law Firm, PLLC to learn how we can help you plan and protect your future.