Frequently Asked Questions about Last Wills and Testaments
Not a lot of people are familiar with how important it is to make a will. When a person dies without making a will, his or her surviving family members will likely go through the probate process or estate administration. Legal help is crucial if you want your surviving spouse, children, or even grandchildren to avoid probate and other complicated issues when you die.
1) What is referred to by an estate plan?
The term ‘estate’ generally pertains to everything that a person owns. Real estate, life insurance, and properties in joint tenancy are often included in this definition. An estate plan, therefore, is essentially a plan indicating who will be in charge of one’s estate affairs, be it during life or after death.
2) What is estate planning for?
There is a lot more to estate administration than just transferring and distributing personal property to a certain loved one. Aside from drafting a will, it can be useful when granting powers of attorney for a specific legal issue. The estate planning process, specifically drafting wills, could cover who will inherit certain estate assets or who will take care of minor children.
3) Why is knowledge of estate planning law necessary?
Naming an heir (and creating a will) involve a legal document that must take into account pertinent estate law. Not like more common legal documents, a last will and testament become crucial only when you pass away. As such, when drafting a will, everything that will affect its validity (such as the way you sign it or how many witnesses were there), should be given due attention by an expert.
4) Why do individuals need a will?
If a decedent or deceased person was able to draft a will, he or she can essentially distribute his or her assets and personal property to heirs the way he or she wants it to be. A last will and testament are particularly vital when distributing to loved ones whatever would eventually be left behind.
5) Is writing a will used for other things?
The legal process of preparing a will can include specific wishes that the testator wants someone else to carry out only after death. It is also useful for appointing guardianship or when someone wants to designate a person who will be managing the estate property until its final distribution.
6) Can a will be brought to court and contested?
Under probate laws, questionable validity may be used as grounds for contesting a will. This could lead to a complicated probate process. Asking for legal help from a reliable law firm when drafting your will is crucial if you want to avoid probate (or a contestable will).
7) Who can contest a will in probate court?
Current beneficiaries or a disinherited beneficiary (that was named in a previous will) are the ones that often contest a will in the courthouse. Contests are also sometimes done by a person not named in a last will and testament but are eligible to inherit under intestacy laws. Getting expert legal advice before proceeding will enable you to write a will that will be difficult to contest.
8) What are the implications of a successfully contested will?
Consulting and getting legal assistance from a trusted estate planning attorney will help ensure that your will would not be invalidated. Why is this so? If such happens, the court will refer to a previous will drafted. If no other estate planning documents were made, relevant state law will govern inheritance involving the estate.
9) What are the usual grounds for contesting a will?
It must be established that the two witnesses with you must have actually ‘witnessed’ you sign it. There must be no undue influence exerted on the person who decides to write a will. Testamentary capacity, or the ability to understand the value and nature of the inheritance that will be distributed, must be present. The absence of any of these is the common ground for contesting the will of a deceased person.
10) How can an estate planning lawyer help?
Setting up a last will and testament must follow a very specific legal process. A reliable estate attorney can help make sure that you create a will following all relevant estate planning laws. This would ensure that none of your loved ones would have to deal with a probate matter or any unnecessary stress when you pass away.
If you want to create a will or if you have questions on estate taxes, power of attorney, succession, or last wills and testaments in general, call us at (253) 303-5823. Consult with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer at Jones Legacy Law.