Many people don't want to think or discuss the fact that they won't always be around. The thought of this can upset and worry individuals, but the reality is that it is something that needs to be discussed. Without proper planning, there are hosts of problems you can encounter, and without proper planning and consideration, your family could be left to deal with these matters. More than half of respondents, 51%, agreed on a Caring.com survey in 2019 that it was "very important" for all individuals to have a will or a living trust in place just in case. Navigating the path of estate planning can be tricky and confusing for some leading them an estate planning Lawyer, while others feel confident enough to not feel the need for any sort of real estate Lawyer, but some sort of legal help is vital. Let's explore some estate planning tips below, and ways that an estate planning Lawyer or real estate Lawyer can help with this.
Consider your State
It is important to remember that different states have different laws and these laws will trump any plans you make for your estate. It is important to understand the state laws and ensure that they are followed. If not, your family could find themselves in the middle of a nasty legal battle after you are gone. When you reach out to real estate law firms, you can be sure that the Lawyers know the law and are well versed in the in's and out's of the law. They can help best direct you to the proper course of action to ensure that all of your wishes can be carried out once you are no longer here.
Everyone knows that it is important to get a proper inventory of your assets when you actively involved in estate planning, but what most people fail to realize is these assets may change over time. This can be especially true if you start planning when you are younger. It is important to revisit all of your assets to make sure they are all accounted for. This helps keep your inventory current and also helps you revisit who is getting what and make necessary changes there if need be.
Taxes paid on the estate can become complicated easily. If your estate plans do not include ways to make this step easier, many family members may decide that the hassle involved is not worth it. There are specific taxes that will be attributed to your assets, and your beneficiaries or your executors will be required to pay these. An experienced real estate Lawyer can help you make your way through the complicated road blocks concerning taxes on your estate. Without an experienced professional to help you your family could find themselves frustrated after your death. Considering these tips will not only help with your estate planning, but also show the importance of having an experienced professional by your side throughout this process. While considering these tips consider researching experienced Lawyers in your area. Using all available resources can help you properly plan to give your family one less thing to worry about during an already stressful time.
“I recently learned that my elderly Aunt is a victim of Fraud. The police have advised me that some victims of the fraud are considering a lawsuit and that someone may wish to speak to a Lawyer on my Aunt’s behalf. My Aunt suffers from dementia and I hold power of attorney. Can my Aunt participate in a lawsuit?"
Special rules apply to lawsuits involving people, like your aunt, who suffer from a mental illness and therefore lack capacity at law.
Generally, children under the age of 18 and people who suffer from mental illness, including those who suffer from dementia, must be represented by a litigation guardian within legal proceedings. There are also special rules which apply to how limitation periods apply to persons who lack capacity at law.
Litigation Guardians assume responsibility for litigation on behalf of a litigant who lacks capacity. Litigation Guardians serve an important role and are saddled with significant responsibilities. They assume the responsibilities of retaining and instructing Lawyers on behalf of the incapable litigant, and litigation guardians assume personal responsibility for any costs liability incurred as a result of a lawsuit.
However, the litigation guardian plays an essential role in ensuring access to justice for some of society’s most vulnerable people. Without people agreeing to stand as Litigation Guardian people who suffer losses could be left without recourse to the courts.
Generally a Lawyer works very closely with a litigation guardian to ensure that risks are properly understood. Lawyers also put in place measures to ensure the risk of personal exposure to the guardian is minimized.
If you are asked to stand as a litigation guardian you should consult with a Lawyer before deciding whether or not to stand.
My elderly mother was diagnosed with dementia a few months ago. She is rapidly deteriorating. She does not have signed powers of attorney documents. I have three other siblings. We need to sell her house and get access to her finances to pay her bills. What do we have to do?
Lawyer under power of attorney
Depending on your mother’s current mental capacity she might still be able to appoint an Lawyer under power of attorney for property or personal care. In order to determine whether you mother still has a mental capacity to execute power of attorney documents she will have to undergo a capacity assessment performed by a specially trained health care professional. If the capacity assessment finds that your mother has capacity to appoint an Lawyer under powers of attorney, she can visit a Lawyer to help her prepare and sign powers of attorney documents.
If your mother does not have the mental capacity to appoint an Lawyer, you and your siblings can apply to be appointed Guardians of Property for your mother. There are two ways this can be achieved: by applying to the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee or making an application to the Court. The less costly and simpler way is to apply to the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee. The process of applying and the application forms can be found on their website. In order to be able to apply to the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, you and your siblings would have to agree on whom to appoint as Guardian. In the event you and your siblings cannot agree on the appointment, someone will have to apply to the Court to be appointed Guardian for your mother.
We have been married for the last 25 years but don’t have any children. Do we need a will, or would everything just go to the surviving spouse anyway?
Yes, you do need a will. Whenever you don’t have any children, under the statutory distribution scheme for individuals that die without a will, your spouse would receive your entire estate. However, you should still have a will for at least two reasons:
- Appointing an executor of your estate; and
- Making instructions for the distribution of your estate in the event that you’re predeceased by your spouse.
Appointment of an executor of your estate.
The executor named in a will has the legal authority to take possession of all your assets, do your final income tax returns, and deal with banks and government institutions. If you don’t have a will, a court would have to appoint an executor of your estate to deal with any assets that were not jointly owned, as well as any registered investments that did not have a named beneficiary. The process of appointing an executor usually takes few months, so in addition to incurring unnecessary costs, there will be an extended delay during which your spouse will not have access to the assets in your estate. In my experience, some financial institutions will waive a probate requirement if your spouse is the named executor and the only beneficiary of your estate, which could provide your spouse with ready access to some assets shortly after your death.
Distribution of your estate if you survive your spouse.
By having a will in place, you will make sure that your estate is distributed the way you want it to be in the event that your spouse passes away shortly before you, or in the event that you are unable to make a will after your spouse’s death. Under the statutory distribution scheme, if you don’t have a spouse nor children, your estate would go to your parents. Alternatively, if your parents are deceased, your estate would go to your siblings. This may not be your wish. For example you might want to leave part of your estate to your spouse’s family, or you may wish to skip your parents and siblings and distribute the estate among your and your spouse’s nieces and nephews, or make gifts to a charity or charities. No matter which option you choose, having a will can provide the peace of mind of knowing that your estate will be distributed according to your wishes.