Revising a Will

It is very important to make sure your will is kept updated. Life changes frequently, which can affect who you choose to have as your heirs and beneficiaries. If you are not updating your will as life events change, it may not accurately reflect your wishes in your new circumstances. The following situations are events in which it may be wise to discuss updating your will with a will lawyer Roseville, CA trusts:

Marriage: After you get married, you and your new spouse should create new wills. It is common in many states for there to be laws which give a percentage of your estate to your surviving spouse at your death, if you have not created a will. However, if you want your spouse to receive more or less than the state will provide them, you will need to create a will to state that. Additionally, putting your new spouse on your will could change the percentage of an asset or of your whole estate that someone else was originally written to receive. You should adjust your will to reflect the percentages you wish for each beneficiary to receive.

Divorce: While some states automatically revoke any property or assets left to your spouse once you become divorced, others do not. To ensure your property and assets are left to the correct people, you need to update your will upon divorce. You will need to update your will to state if you want to leave anything to your former spouse or what the distribution of your property will now be.

Having a Baby: In many states, once you have a child, they will be given part of your property when you die. However, if you do not want your property to be divided according to state laws, you will need to update your will. If you have a new baby, you will need to change your will to include what gifts your new baby will receive. Most importantly, if you have a new baby, you will need to state in your will who will become your child’s guardian if anything should happen to you.

New Stepchildren: Unless you legally adopt step children, they are not automatically entitled to receive any of your property when you die. If you would like your stepchildren to inherit your assets, you will need to revise your will to include them.

Changing Beneficiaries: Sometimes things happen in life that change the way you feel about how you’d like your property to be divided after you die. It is important to update your will to reflect your new wishes.

Moving out of State: States have different laws pertaining to what each spouse owns. States can be either a common law property state or a community property state, so it is important to know what your current state is versus the state you will be moving to. If your new state is different than what your current state is, you will need to adjust your will to reflect your new property ownership status.

How to Change a Will

The easiest way to change your will is to create a new will and state that you are revoking any previous wills. If you are wanting to add something to your will or make a simple change, all you will need to do is add a codicil, also known as an amendment, to your will.

 


Thank you to our friend and contributors at Yee Law Group, PC for their insight into wills and estate planning.

Is Probate Really the Nightmare It’s Made Out to Be?

The death of a loved one is often a heavy emotional experience to contend with. The last thing anyone wants to deal with is complications in dispersing assets to heirs.

The mention of probate often brings forth negative connotations. Many people create their estate plans out of fear that their family will be required to endure the probate process. Is it really as bad as it seems? Are there actual benefits to probate? Although probate can, at times, be a real pain, it is also there for a reason. Regardless of probate, it is important to note that an estate plan is the most effective way to ensure that your heirs obtain their inheritance in the way you intended. If you have a loved one who has recently passed, an attorney can help you understand each step to the probate process.

What is Probate?

When a person passes away, their property is disbursed to beneficiaries identified in the will. When there is a will in place, it is used as a roadmap to the final wishes of the deceased. Probate is the process of proving a will in court. In some cases this must occur prior to assets being officially handed over to beneficiaries. Probate validates the will by going over assets, properties and debts prior to disbursement. The executor of the estate or an attorney will usually file with the probate court and notices are posted. Common items in a will that must go through probate include:

  • Real Estate Property
  • Boats
  • Vehicles
  • Artwork
  • Insurance Policies
  • 401k accounts

Common Misconceptions

Probate often gets a bad rap because it can slow down the process. Many people are misinformed about the probate process. It’s important to seek the guidance of an estate-planning attorney for further clarity surrounding probate, as there are a number of misconceptions people have:

  • A will can be tied up in probate for years. Probate times frames can vary depending upon where you live. It’s important to note that much of the time, probate should take no longer than a year.
  • Many people believe that if a will goes through probate, the state or federal government will take everything, especially if there is no will in place. Although the process can vary by state, enduring probate is required when a person passes away without a will. Without a will, the state will choose who stands to inherit your assets. However in most cases, assets are left to your spouse and children.
  • Fear that once your assets go through probate there will be nothing left for beneficiaries. In most cases, the cost of probate is only a very small percentage of the estate.

With an attorney by your side with experience in this area of practice, your loved ones may be able to breeze through probate, especially if you left behind an estate plan for them to reference.

Benefits to Probate

Although the thought of probate can fill many people with dread, there are a number of reasons why it is a necessary part of the process. Probate is part of a system of checks and balances to ensure that heirs obtain the inheritance that they are entitled to. Benefits to probate include:

  • Shortens the amount of time creditors have to attempt to collect from an estate.
  • Probate will review the guardianship plan for minor children. The court will almost always go with the guardian of your choosing unless for some reason they are found to be unsuitable.
  • If a person dies without a will in place, probate can protect their assets and ensure they are disbursed to their rightful heirs.

A probate lawyer Folsom, CA trusts can be of particular use when tackling the probate process. They can educate you surrounding probate and help you develop an estate plan that is sustainable.

 


Thank you to our friend and contributors at Yee Law Group, PC for their insight into probate and estate planning.

Choose the Right Trustee to Prevent Trust Litigation

When creating a trust, it is important to consider who shall be the most suitable trustee that can carry on last wishes with respect and accuracy. Choosing a reliable trustee can help lessen the chances of a trust going through litigation after a person passes on. The period of time following a cherished family member’s passing can be a very sensitive and tender time for loved ones. The last thing surviving family will want to happen is to have the added stress of litigation to deal with.

A New Jersey trust lawyer understands the ins and out of the legal system and can offer sound advice when it comes to finalizing and updating your trust. Clients also often turn to us for representation if a loved one’s trust does end up in litigation. Here in this article, we have listed some tips on how to pick the right person to be the appointed trustee for your legacy.

#1 – Someone With Experience & Common Sense

The person you appoint does not have to be someone who is an expert on all things trusts, wills and estates. However, you do need someone who will know when it is time to ask for help in the event they stumble into a question or concern after you are gone. Someone who has a basic sense of business and whom you trust to make decisions that will be in your best interest, is the way to go. A person that lacks common sense may make easy mistakes without even knowing it, or not be able to realize when they should seek assistance from a professional.

#2 Consider Age & Health

Do think about this person’s age, and how old they will be around the time you estimate you will pass on. The trustee must outlive you. Choosing someone younger that will likely have the mental capacity to handle things when the time comes, is the best option. It is smart to choose a backup trustee if for some reason your first choice is unable to fulfill their duties. You can write down a specific name for the alternative trustee, or approve your initial trustee to assign the new executor of the trust.

#3 After Choosing a Trustee, Update Your Trust

Once you have completed your trust, the work is unfortunately not over. Every so often you will want to update your trust based on any major changes in your life, including divorce, change in friendships, new family members, financial status, etc. If you do not update your trust, it may not reflect what your ultimate wishes would have been at the time right before your passing. Editing it from time to time when needed, can help prevent part of your legacy going into the hands of those you no longer associate with.

 


Thank you to our friends and contributors at Klenk Law for their insight into estate planning and trusts.

Factors to Consider Prior to Disinheriting a Child

In the United States, you are not able to disinherit your spouse unless your spouse has agreed to it in a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement. However, in every state, except for Louisiana, you are able to disinherit your children under some circumstances.

Louisiana law states that you are not able to disinherit a child that is under 23 year old, or any children no matter how old that are permanently unable to take care of themselves or manage their finances at the time of the decedent’s death, due to a physical infirmity or mental incapacity.

Movies and television shows have glorified the notion of disinheritance. A child under threat of, or having been cut off from their inheritance is a common plot used in entertainment. However, in real life, the act of disinheriting a loved one should be taken extremely seriously and thought about carefully.

Disinheritance is a financial and emotional decision. It could start when a grandparent or parent decides to end financial support to an adult child or grandchild. It could also be caused by a child or grandchild receiving a lifetime of financial support which caused a disadvantage to others.

There are a few things to consider when deciding to disinherit a child or relative:

 

  • A trust can be used to control the inheritance.
    If the reason you are considering disinheriting your child or loved one is because you believe they will spend all of your money quickly or will decide not to work anymore, you can leave them an inheritance that comes with requirements. This can be done by creating a lifetime trust for the benefit of the heir and then provide the trustee instructions on when and how the heir can receive distributions. These requirements could include not using drugs and alcohol, graduating from college, or working a full-time job. However, these requirements cannot include requirements that are against public policy, for instance, practicing a religion or divorcing their spouse.
  • If you choose to disinherit your child or relative, you can give your child, spouse, or another relative a power of appointment.
    By giving someone the power of appointment, you are allowing them to “re-inherit” the person you chose to disinherit. You would need to give the beneficiary of the lifetime trust a power of appointment that can be used for the process of re-inheriting the person you had chosen to disinherit.
  • Make it clear in your will or trust that you will be disinheriting someone.
    It could make sense to some to completely leave out someone from your will if you choose to disinherit them, however, you should specifically state in your will that you are disinheriting them. By having it written out clearly, it will discourage a will contest.
  • Make sure to be aware of your beneficiary designations and to update them if it is needed.
    Since disinheriting someone is often an emotional decision, the beneficiary designation for IRAs and 401(k)s are often overlooked. If you end up deciding to disinherit your child or relative, it is important to ensure your assets are properly titled and your beneficiary designations are updated.

 

 

Estate Planning for Newly Blended Families

Now that you’ve remarried, and your spouse has children, it’s probably occurred to you that it’s time to create or update your estate plan. This is an important thing to do, as an estate planning lawyer might tell you. By making your final wishes clear well in advance of your passing, you can help ease the confusion and pain of those you leave behind. We encourage you to speak with an estate planning lawyer to learn the many ways we can be of assistance.

 

Inheritance Laws and Step-Children

 

It may surprise you to learn that unless you legally adopt your step-children, they do not automatically inherit anything from you if you pass away without leaving behind a will or trust. However, your biological and adopted children do have certain rights in the absence of estate planning arrangements. If this concerns you because you want to share your legacy with your step-children, it’s a good reason to meet with an estate planning lawyer. We can help you take care of those you love.

 

Leaving Assets to Your Step-Children

 

You can leave as little or as much of your assets to your step-children as you wish, as long as you specify your wishes in a will or trust. This is something that an estate planning lawyer, like an estate attorney Cherry Hill, NJ residents look to, will be very happy to assist you with and can make the process very easy for you. Your estate planning lawyer may suggest that when designating which child should receive which items or cash, that you name each person in the will be their name. By avoiding broad terms like “my children” or “my heirs” it eliminates the possibility of confusion in wondering if you meant biological children, or biological children as well as step-children.

 

Establishing a Trust That Includes Your Step-Children

 

When you meet with an estate planning lawyer, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about tools in addition to wills such as a trust. For some people, it is ideal to create a trust in addition to a will. For others, a simple will answers their needs while still others only create a trust. Each person’s needs are different, as the details of their particular circumstances are unique. Your estate planning lawyer will provide you guidance that reflects your best interests.

 

There are several kinds of trusts that you can create, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. For some, the disadvantages are negligible, but it’s important to understand your options. Many lawyers offer a free consultation to those wishing to create a lasting legacy for their beneficiaries. Call us to request an appointment with a skilled estate planning lawyer who can explain your options to you so that you can make an informed decision. With a trust established, your step-children can benefit in any of the following ways that you choose:

 

  •         A trust will enable your step-children to inherit your specified assets without having to undergo the probate process which is an additional cost and requires time to complete.
  •         If you appoint your step-child as the beneficiary of one or more of your financial accounts, such as a life insurance policy, they can inherit those assets and avoid probate.
  •         A special needs trust for your step-child will allow them to continue to receive any government disability benefits they are already receiving.

 

Get a Free Consultation

 

Call a law office today to request a free consultation with an estate planning lawyer.

 

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Klenk Law for their insight into estate planning.

Breach of Contract: Remedies

Contract lawThere are five main remedies to breach of contract. They are money damages, restitution, rescission, reformation, and specific performance. Each of these remedies will have different uses, outcomes, and benefits in a breach of contract case. Some will benefit certain cases more than others and cannot always be deployed equally. The remedy that is being sought must be demanded in the complaint.

Money damages means you are awarded some amount of money as compensation for losses due to the breach of contract. This means that if you paid someone to paint your fence and they stopped, you would be awarded damages on the lost fence payment due to the contract breach. You may be able to seek more money damages if you did things like advertise for more needed services to hire another painter or other replacement employee or service. There can also be an award of damages for a lost opportunity to enter another contract because of taking the current contract. Those damages are rarely obtained, but should always be pursued.

Restitution exists to place the plaintiff in the position of being as if they had never entered the contract. If someone had painted your fence poorly and you needed it repainted you could be entitled to restitution.

Rescission means a contract will either be terminated when someone is terminated or the contract is unmade between parties. The contract will be undone as far back as possible to bring the party into a state of being when they were not in the contract at all. Rescission can also be employed when contracts are fraudulently misrepresented or while under duress. If you entered into a contract for fence painting, only to find out the painter lied about the painter’s experience, you may be able to seek restitution. This makes both parties the closest they’ll be to the state they were before the contract, or status quo ante.

Reformation is a type of equitable remedy where the contract is rewritten or “reformed” so that the contract now better expresses the intentions of the parties. The reformation exists to remedy the breach and allow the parties to continue working together in the future under better conditions for all parties involved. This situation would be if you hired someone to paint your fence, but didn’t specify how long they should work per day or how many days a week they should work. You can seek to reform the contract to say, for example, that you need seven hours a day with at least 4 days a week. All parties involved can now move forward with a more clear understanding of the needs and demands of the contract and those involved.

Specific performance means that someone is ordered by the court to finish their service as promised. An example of specific performance would be if someone was hired to paint a fence and then stopped, they’d be court ordered to finish the fence. Other than in certain types of transactions (particularly real estate), specific performance is a more difficult remedy.

Breaches of contract can result in more than just monetary damages. The type of breach of contract remedy depends on the contract and the client objective, but the varying remedies provide an opportunity for creative lawyering to tailor the remedy to the situation.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Patterson Law Firm for their insight into contract breaches.

Job Applicant Information in California

One big issue in hiring practices right now is exactly how much information an employer is legally permitted to request from a prospective employee, as a skilled Atlanta, GA employment discrimination lawyer can explain. As is the case with California, restricting this information can be based on the idea that the less information employers can have, the more employment opportunities people will have. In particular, this information includes things like criminal conviction histories and prior salaries.

In effect, by mandating that employers cannot ask about convictions, it makes it easier for those with convictions to not be disadvantaged solely for that reason when applying for jobs. Similarly, prior salaries can function as a proxy for gender or sex, such that when women are asked for prior salary information, this can lead to decreased salary offerings if hired. Ultimately, this is designed to protect potential employees from being disadvantaged in some way due to these forms of information about them, to decrease disparities in opportunities and increase inclusion across different groups.

First, more than 70 million Americans have a criminal record and this has huge implications when they go to apply for a job. “Ban the box” is a phrase that has recently grown in popularity; it is the idea that an applicant should not – at least at the beginning of the application screening process – have to say they have a conviction. Previously, once the applicant is deemed to be qualified, then the employer can look into those convictions, but only at that point, which meant that the employee had a chance for the employer to get to know them more before making a blanket decision just based on their prior conviction.

After a set of earlier legislative actions, in late 2017, California passed another bill that restricted what employers can ask regarding convictions, which now mandates that the employer cannot look at their convictions until after a conditional job offer. This makes it easier on employees who have convictions to get further in the hiring process, while making it harder on employers who want such information.

Second, similar to convictions, employers in California – under a law passed in 2017 – now must refrain from asking an applicant for information on salary history, as it pertains to hiring that person or deciding what salary to offer. This law is designed to address the wage gap between men and women, as women make 80.5 cents on the dollar that men make.

Altogether, these trends show that California – along with other states – are reducing the information employers can ask for up front, and thereby giving applicants and potential employees – especially disadvantaged applicants – some assistance when it comes to legal protections during the hiring process. Employers and employees should both look out for hiring practices that violate these recent changes.

 

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Barrett & Farahany, LLP for their insight into job applicant information.

 

What is the Difference Between a Trust and a Will?

Everyone has heard the estate planning terms “trust” and “will”, however, everyone might not be able to explain the difference between the two. Trusts and wills are both useful estate planning tools that are used for different purposes and both are able to work together with the help of an estate planning attorney Scottsdale, Arizona trusts to build a complete estate plan.

A last will is a legal document that does basically four things:

  1. It provides instructions and wishes about how your property and assets are to be distributed to your loved ones when you die.
  2. It designates your beneficiaries.
  3. You are able to choose an executor, who is the person who will manage your assets and ensure they are distributed correctly.
  4. You are able to name a guardian to take care of your children.

A living trust is a legal document which creates a legal relationship between one person, the trustee, holds property for the benefit of someone else, the beneficiary. This property can be real or personal property, including money, stocks, bonds, real estate, personal possessions, business interests, and automobiles. A trust involves at least two or more people: the person who creates the trust, the grantor; the person who manages the property in order to benefit the grantor and the beneficiaries, the trustee; and those who benefit from the trust, the beneficiaries.  A trust has two different types of beneficiaries; one group of beneficiaries receive income from the trust throughout their lives and the other group receives assets that are left over once the first group of beneficiaries dies.

A main difference between a trust and a will is that a will only comes into effect after you die, unlike a trust which is effective as soon as you have created it. While one aspect that both a will and a trust have in common is they can both name guardians for minor children.

A will will cover any property that is in your name at the time of your death. It will not cover any property that is held in a trust or in joint tenancy. A trust, however, only covers property that has been placed in the trust. For property to be placed in the trust, it needs to be put n the name of the trust.

Probate is another difference between a will and a trust. A will needs to go through probate. This means that a court will supervise the administration of the will, makes sure of the validity of the will, and that the property is distributed the way the owner would have wanted. A trust does not need to go through probate, so a court does not need to supervise the process, which in the end usually saves money and time. One of the most common reasons people decide to make a trust is to keep their property from the probate process once they die. A will also becomes part of the public record, while a trust is able to stay private.


Thank you to our contributing
Scottsdale, Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys for their insight into wills and trusts.

Differences between a Trust and a Will

A lot of people are somewhat familiar with what a last will and testament is, but may not be as familiar with what a trust is in regards to estate planning tools. Many people tend to thing wills and trusts are somewhat interchangeable, but the truth is that they both serve separate purposes. An estate planning attorney can discuss with you if your family would benefit from either of these tools. The following is a brief overview of how each work.

 

Last Will and Testament

A will is a document that a person stipulates how they want their property to be divided once they have died. The person who writes the will, referred to as the grantor decides who the beneficiaries will be and what they will receive.

 

Trust

A trust is a legal arrangement whereby the trustor (the person who sets up the trust) places assets and/or property in the trust and chooses a beneficiary who will receive the contents of the trust when the trustor passes away. The trustor will choose a trustee who will hold the assets in the trust on behalf of the beneficiary. In the majority of trusts, the trustor chooses themselves as the trustee. When the trust that is set up is a revocable trust, the trustor can change or dissolve the trust at any time.

 

Differences between Wills and Trusts

One of the biggest difference between a will and a trust is that a will is only executed when the person who wrote it dies. On the other hand, a trust can go into effect immediately.

Another difference is that assets that are passed to a beneficiary by contract, such as joint tenancy with rights of survivorship or life insurance policies, can be distributed through the trust since the trustor can place any property or assets in the trust that they choose. These types of contract assets cannot be handled through a will.

 

A significant difference between wills and trusts – and the one factor that often attracts people to trusts – is that wills are require to go through the probate process but trusts are not. Probate is the legal process in which the court declares whether a will is valid or not. The decedent names an executor in the will, the person who will oversee the probate process and distribution of all the assets, as well as pay any debts and other obligations the decedent had. Trusts are not required to go through the probate process.

 

Probate can take approximately 12 months, as long as no one contests the will. If someone who was not named in the will or believes the will is not valid, they can contest it. This often slows down the probate process, causing it to go longer than 12 months.

The court will decide whether or not the will is valid or if the party contesting the will has a valid claim. It is not uncommon for people to be successful in contesting wills and whatever the decedent’s wishes in the contested will were, will not be honored. A lawyer, like the Philadelphia, PA revocable living trust lawyers  residents can turn to, can provide any answers and questions to personal circumstances.

 

Thank you to Klenk Law for providing their insight and authoring this piece on the differences between a trust and a will.

 

Involved in a Business Legal Matter? Hire a Moving Company

If you or your firm is involved in a legal matter of some kind and you need to relocate for good or bad reasons, you may be best served by hiring a moving company. This is true for a wide range of possible scenarios.

  1. You have dissolved a partnership. Whether it was a company run by yourself and one other person, or many staff were involved, it may be best to not show up in person. If litigation is ongoing, you could say something that could be used against you. This can be difficult to avoid if the person you’re dealing with in court is abusive toward you in any way while you are on premises. Call a moving company rather than moving your possessions yourself. It can save you additional stress and reduce the likelihood of a confrontation. A public confrontation is what you want to avoid because it can be costly if it results in bad press or worse.
  2. Your company is expanding into a larger facility. Business is great and you’ve signed a lease for additional office or manufacturing space. Congratulations, but if you choose to save a few dollars by having your staff move everything and someone gets hurt, you’re looking at higher workers compensation insurance premiums. An additional advantage is that by hiring professional movers, the job will probably be done that much faster, which results in lower downtime and higher staff productivity.
  3. You’re closing shop and dissolving your business. . They can not only move your furniture and stock items to where you need them to go, they can also clean your office or shop after they’ve removed everything. And if you have anything you do not want to keep, they can haul it away to the junkyard, recycling center, or thrift shop for you.
  4. You’re moving across state or across the country because your company merged with another company. This is an exciting time, but much to do. If needed, they will partner with long distance fellow moving companies who are as trusted and reliable as they are.

If you’re involved in business litigation of some kind and need to move your physical assets, call professionals, like movers Waldorf, MD relies on.

Thank you to Suburban Solutions for providing insight on hiring a moving company.