Estate planning is not just for millionaires. You may not think you have an estate let alone any need for a plan, but if you have children, if you have things of value, if you own a home, you need an estate plan. An estate plan ensures that you decide who gets your hard earned assets, whatever their size or value-- not the government. Without an estate plan, your wealth , your estate will pass according to the state intestacy statute. Don't you want to decide to whom and when your assets should be distributed and not a probate court? Estate is planning how you direct to whom your property will be distributed and who will care for your minor children. Estate planning helps reduce tax liabilities, court costs, and attorneys' fees, and can minimize disputes after your death the loss of family members. We can also design your estate plan to deal with your possible future mental or physical incapacity, either through a trust or a durable power of attorney. In addition, we can guide you through many situations that come up in everyday life that have a legal angle. Whether you are buying or selling a home, starting, buying or selling a business, switching jobs and need a severance or non-compete agreement reviewed, dealing with a minor criminal mater or have been injured in a car accident, you should have a lawyer you can turn to for advice. If we don't have the expertise to help you, we will find someone who does. The bottom line is that we want to be your lawyer. You have a family doctor (now they call them primary care physicians); you should have a family lawyer. If you want the benefit of a lawyer with a combination of 30 years of far reaching experience, offering values-based, parent-centered estate planning, and a passion for helping clients, call or email Steve today.
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- Q. My father is dying in South Carolina my sister is power of attorney, doe's she legally have to notify me about will?
- A: Most states require notice to all heirs (relatives who would inherit property if the decedent died without a will) if there is an application to admit a will to probate. That doesn't happen until after death. But nowadays, a lot of assets pass outside of probate, by joint account or beneficiary designation, for example. So sometimes there is no actual probate needed or filed. You will probably need to check with an Attorney in South Carolina for more specific info.
- Q. Must a Mutual Distribution agreement only be the result of a will contest?
- A: Yes, the beneficiaries can agree on a distribution different from the will without a will contest.
- Q. Questions about wills in CT. Can they be hand written and must they be notarized
- A: Connecticut allows handwritten (Holographic) wills under certain circumstances. The will must comply with all of the other requirements, including witnesses. A beneficiary cannot be witness to the will, unless they are also an heir (meaning someone who would get a part of the estate if there were no will). The executor can be a witness, but if they are a beneficiary (they get something from the will) but they are not an heir (next of kin), the will be disqualified. You should hire a lawyer to help.
- Q. My mom passed in January of this year. Prior to her death she added me (her daughter) to her checking/savings account
- A: The funds in the joint account became yours upon your mother's death and you are entitled to keep them. That being said, if your name was added as a convenience, and your mother did not explicitly say she wanted you to have the money and not include it as part of the estate, your brother could argue that the money should come back into the estate and be divided. He would have to prove that in court. If he proposes a distribution which is less than your share, you can object and the court will ultimately decide. It is not uncommon for a sibling to agree to put jointly held funds back into an estate, but you are not obligated to do this.
- Q. What kinds of things should we be aware of as we set up our estate for a disabled child?
- A: The answer to that seemingly simple question is rather complex. To start, you should be considering setting up a couple of special needs trusts (SNT's). The first trust would be a 3rd party SNT, which is funded by assets owned by a third party (meaning not your child). The second trust is a "1st party" or "self-settled" SNT. This would be funded by assets of your child, which he or she might be entitled to because a relative left money to him or her directly, or by a personal injury settlement if your child became entitled to money down the road because of an accident. These trusts will allow you to leave money for the benefit of your child, without jeopardizing entitlement to governmental benefits such as SSI. I'd suggest sitting down with an estate planning attorney with expertise in this complicated area.
- Q. My brother is not handling our parents' trust responsibly. Can I have him removed?
- A: If you are a beneficiary of the trust, you have the right to ask the probate court to get involved to look at your complaints about how he is handling things. Whether the court will remove him depends on the nature of the problems and probably on the terms of the trust. You should contact an attorney with experience in this area.
- Q. I'm pretty sure my uncle's updated will was signed when he was already diagnosed with dementia. Is this legal?
- A: This is a hard question. Even a person with dementia may have the mental capacity to sign a will or codicil if he knows what he is signing, knows the natural objects of his bounty (his children, relatives, etc.) and knows the extent of his estate.
- Q. How do I claim anything when dad left no will? I am closest living relative. No one else cared.
- A: You can file to become the administrator of the estate. Connecticut law states that if a person dies without a will, and has no spouse, the assets in the estate go to the children.
- Q. I believe close relatives are taking advantage of my fathers diminished mental capacity as it relates
- A: You can petition the probate court to have a conservator appointed for your father. This will give you the power to take control and manage assets in his name.