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How an Estate Lawyer Can Save Your Family

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How an Estate Lawyer Can Save Your Family

Nearly 90% of families who have to deal with an estate end up in conflict over the will, no matter how soundly it’s written. The last thing you want to spend your grieving days doing is fighting with the people you love. Hiring an estate lawyer can put everything into the hands of a neutral party and leave your family to support each other.

Estate lawyers have seen every kind of conflict between family members. They’ll be able to help your family navigate the next steps and arbitrate any conflicts with the estate.

If you fear your family will end up in conflict after a loved one dies or if you’ve recently seen conflict bubbling after the death of a loved one, you need help. Here are 8 ways an estate lawyer will ensure your family avoids permanent damage to your relationship.

1. Navigating Personal Property

One of the most common conflicts between family members is over personal property. Your lawyer can generate a property list or personal property memorandum that is included with the will.

The list, once signed and dated, becomes a legal document defining who gets what. When you’re generating the list, make sure you add sufficient details for each item that is being dispersed.

2. Keeping Plans Updated

If you hire your estate lawyer soon enough, they can make changes to the plans as conflict arises. If there is a divorce, there might need to be major changes made to the estate.

If beneficiaries pass away, their inheritances will go to the next legal heir unless otherwise noted. If this person is not the preferable heir for the owner of the estate, they should change plans as soon as possible.

Should power of attorney, whether medical or financial, be still in the hands of someone who is no longer in the family, this needs to be changed. Failure to update the estate plan will lead to bizarre or unwanted results. Former spouses should be disinherited as soon as possible.

3. Special Assets

Your estate lawyer can organize a meeting to talk about any special assets the family has. If there is a disabled child or someone who is in special care, this needs to be accounted for.

For family businesses, every detail should be worked out as specifically as possible. Make changes as early as you can so as to keep other plans from being interrupted. If there’s a family vacation home, you don’t want to have to make last minute changes to your plans once the home comes under dispute.

4. Manage Any Prenuptial Agreement

If the owner of the estate has been married a number of times, multiple people could come forward to claim an inheritance. This is a common occurrence but can be easily avoided by an estate lawyer.

Make sure that a prenuptial or post nuptial agreement is struck to maintain who is owed what and at what time. This can decrease the chance of conflict following a death. Children who are not from the marriage could make a claim and a nuptial agreement could make it clear one way or the other if they’re owed.

5. Make Gifts And Loans Clear

If someone received a gift from a loved one, members of the family could claim that it was a loan and want payment from the recipient. Parents sometimes help children who are in dire financial straits.

Other children could claim that the parent should have received repayment. They can claim that the child who received the supposed loan is no longer eligible for a share of the estate.

Parents need to make clear what is a gift and what is a loan as they age. If they want their children to have a good relationship, their clarity can step in front of any conflict even after they’re gone.

Your lawyer will know to get this in writing and keep a record of any statements.

6. Keep Trusts Funded

An estate lawyer will be well experienced in managing trusts. After the death of the person who maintained a trust, it might be unclear who is responsible next. This trust could sit in limbo or be left to someone who doesn’t want to maintain it.

Taxes will be taken on the trust and need to be filed by someone. If the person who is tasked with doing that is disinterested, it could cause headaches for the whole family.

7. Resolve Joint Ownership

Sometimes parents will make their children the joint owner of assets as they age. This is a problematic method of passing along assets and can produce negative results.

If the co-owner of an asset no longer has interest in it or doesn’t want the liabilities, they could be tasked with a burden.

An estate lawyer knows better. They’ll make sure any assets are put into a trust. If a co-owner claims bankruptcy or gets into legal trouble, the asset could also be thrown into conflict.

8. Manage Funeral Details

An estate lawyer will make sure that details are laid out immediately following death. Emotions can be high at that moment and having a clear plan is the best way to avoid conflicts.

Spouses from previous marriages might claim ownership over the funeral details or of determining where the deceased will be buried. This will cause distress for families and cause mountains of conflict at a stressful time. Hiring a lawyer in advance will ensure you can avoid these problems.

Hire an Estate Lawyer for Peace Of Mind

Most people think they’ll be level-headed when death occurs. Sadly we’re never as composed as we wish we were in those moments. Hiring a lawyer in advance will ensure that much of the financial path ahead is already laid out.

If you’re ready to hire a strong and sympathetic lawyer for your estate, contact us for more information on how to find one.

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