Helping Your Family Avoid Real Estate Probate With a Will

It may surprise you to find out that when a loved one passes away, a house is the item that people fight about more so than anything else. Probate for real estate is a very large issue. Prior to a probate judge making a decision, people can be at war for years. A lawyer is retained by each side to fight for them as each one has the belief that they are entitled to the land or home. It can get complicated if the person who died did not leave a strict will; even if they did, it’s possible that it can be challenged.

Everyone over the age of eighteen should be practical enough to have a will. To do this, simply contact a lawyer and ask for one to be drawn up. You can secure it in a lock box at the bank when it is finalized. Keep a few copies on hand, making sure to inform your beneficiaries of your wishes. It’s important to explain who you want to receive what and why, or your family may end up fighting it out in the Supreme Court.

Real estate probate can get very ugly. Every law firm can tell you how nasty a wills probate issue can get; whether the fight is over land or a home, the costs can continue to add up on top of the settlements.

Logically, you would think that everyone would be grieving at this point, but unfortunately people often are concerned with what has been left to them by the deceased. Maybe they are afraid that someone else will take things that they believe are rightfully theirs. Or possibly the belief is, that due to a family argument, the other person is entitled to nothing. There are multiple excuses and all of them can cause family strife. Any holiday gathering can be made into a bitter affair, ending in an argument.

In order to avoid a battle in real estate probate court, steps can be taken to assist your friends and family. To start, speak with an attorney and draw up a will that lists the people you want to leave something to. In addition, copy the will multiple times, and keep the copies in a separate and secure place. As it is a good idea to update the will now and then, notify friends and members of the family of any revisions made.

When retired executive, Marshall Penningtyn decided to get his estate in order for his loved ones he researched Orange County estate planning. Marshall found Gerard O’Brien who specializes in estate and retirement planning as well as Orange County asset protection trust planning.

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Wills and Probate: An Essential Part of Estate Planning

Wills and probate are an essential part of estate planning. Wills are used to provide directives for how inheritance property is to be distributed upon death. Wills can also be used to express burial preferences and appoint guardianship for minor children. Upon death, a decedent’s last will is filed through probate for validation.

Validating wills and probate can take several months. The average duration of probate is 6 to 9 months, but can vary depending on estate assets, outstanding debts, and family dynamics. An estate administrator is appointed within the Will. If no Will exists, a probate executor is appointed through the court.

Probate gives estate administrators time to issue creditor notices, secure and appraise inheritance property, notify government agencies such as Social Security or Medicare, pay outstanding debts, and distribute inheritance assets.

Probate can be prolonged when heirs contest the Will or if decedents do not execute a legal Will. Known as intestate estates, managing an estate without a Will requires additional work. Intestate estate administrators are confirmed through the court and must abide by state probate laws when distributing inheritance property.

If heirs believe they are entitled to inheritance that was not bequeathed to them, they can contest the Will. Heirs can also contest a last will and testament if they believe the decedent was under the influence of another or were not of sound mind when drafting their final Will.

Heirs who contest a Will are responsible for legal fees unless a probate judge rules in their favor. The decedent’s estate is responsible for defense counsel fees. If the Plaintiff’s claim is justified, the estate will be responsible for reimbursement of legal fees. Contesting a Will can prolong probate for months or years and often bankrupts the estate with litigation costs.

Estate planners recommend retaining a probate lawyer to settle decedent estates when family dysfunction exists. While this cannot stop heirs from contesting a Will, it oftentimes discourages family members from taking legal action.

Engaging in estate planning can protect certain property from undergoing the probate process. These can include checking and savings accounts, financial portfolios, retirement accounts, life insurance proceeds, and titled property such as automobiles and real estate.

It is best to consult with a professional estate planner or probate lawyer to determine which strategies are best suited. Some states allow small estates to settle without the need for probate. Others require estate administrators to obtain court confirmation and submit all estate transactions through the courts. While others let will executors engage in estate settlement duties without court supervision.

Probate lawyers and estate planners often offer complimentary consultations to discuss estate planning needs. These professionals can advise of the best strategies to protect inheritance property and reduce the risk of having the Will contested.

The process of wills and probate can be challenging; especially when decedents do not leave a valid Will or when family strife occurs. Everyone age 18 and over should engage in basic estate planning. Don’t procrastinate about executing a last will and testament. The process is easy and only requires a few hours of time. In the end, estate planning is the best gift anyone can leave their loved ones.

Learn more about wills and probate from California real estate investor, Simon Volkov. He shares information and resources regarding probate, estate planning, and strategies to avoid probate via his website at

Marital Separation In Family Law

Popular aphorisms say there is no flawless and ideal marriage, only imperfect couples sharing a perfect marriage. Marriage is considered a proof of eternal love between a man and woman. It attests eternal understanding between couples. Nevertheless, irreconcilable differences are inevitable. Couples do not concede in several matters and issues. Misunderstanding and unresolved arguments lead to separation.

In the United States, the government recognizes marital separation. There are three types of marital separation. These are divorce, annulment, and legal separation. In divorce, the court nullifies marriage. Marriage is nullified because of irreconcilable differences. Any party can file a divorce case. The other party will be notified by the court after legal filing. Divorce is the easiest and fastest method of marital separation. The court easily recognizes irreconcilable differences between husband and wife.

Moreover, annulment disregards the validity of marriage. The court declares marital invalidity for two reasons: bigamy and incest. Bigamy refers to multiple marriages. A husband or wife is not allowed to marry another partner. Bigamy is strictly prohibited in American family law. Incest is a marriage between close family relatives. The court declares marital invalidity from the start of marital bond. Therefore, couples are not legally bound to perform marital responsibilities.

Legal separation is another way of marital separation. Nevertheless, legal separation does not invalidate marriage. It only legalizes physical separation between husband and wife. A woman still carries the name of his husband. Likewise, a man is still legally bound to perform marital responsibilities. This is the most common means of marital separation in Los Angeles. A family law lawyer los angeles arranges marital responsibilities of husband and wife.

Los Angeles family laws settles spouse and child support during marital separation. A husband is required to provide monetary support to his wife and children. In legal separation, husband and wife are not allowed to remarry. A family law lawyer los angeles arranges no re-marriage agreement between couples. This applies to marriage in even in other states.

In divorce and legal annulment, Los Angeles law protects the parenting right of both parties. Thus, a family law lawyer los angeles arranges child custody provisions in marital separation. This gives a husband and wife equal rights to see their children.

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Do You Require A Family Law Solicitor?

If you’ve never used a family law solicitor, then you may be unaware of the full range of services they provide and the many different ways they can help your situation. Here to help are 10 situations where they may be able to help.

1. In recent times, one of the most popular reasons to contact a family law solicitor is if you’re getting married and want a pre-marital agreement to protect the assets of one or both of the parties.

2. On the flipside, you may require a specialist’s help if you’re getting divorced and want to make sure everything is done properly.

3. If you are facing divorce and you have children, you may require a solicitor’s help if you are facing a battle for custody.

4. Another of the major issues to sort out when couples divorce is property. A family law solicitor can work in your best interests to ensure you get what you’re entitled to.

5. Beyond property, finances and possessions may also need to be sorted with the help of a solicitor.

6. Many grandparents also find their access to their grandchildren restricted following their son or daughter’s divorce. To find out about their rights in these situations, legal support can help.

7. If you’re entering a civil partnership and want to ensure everything is done properly, want to protect assets or need to know more about your rights, legal advice may be required.

8. If a civil partnership is coming to an end and you want to understand your rights better and need to sort any of the issues through points 3 to 6, a solicitor can help.

9. Family law solicitors are also on hand to help if you wish to sort a will.

10. And finally, another common reason for contacting a legal firm with family specialists is if you are in an abusive relationship and need help escaping the situation.

Do any of these relate to your situation? If so, it may be worth speaking to a family law solicitor today.

You may find a law firm that has a broad range of specialists, including an employment law solicitor or residential conveyancing expert.

Lees Solicitors is an highly reputable law firm with years of experience in family law cases. They can also help when you require a personal injury specialist or need to know more about residential conveyancing.

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How To Find A Qualified Lawyer To Repersent You

Even if a lawyer spent years in college to earn his degree, that does not mean he is the best one to help you. This article will help you choose a lawyer that fits your situation. You will surely be happy you did so.

Always get a lawyer’s history prior to signing up with their practice. The fact that a lawyer passed the bar does not by itself make him a good attorney. Learn about their record so that you’re confident that they can accomplish the job properly.

Set a schedule as to when you and your attorney are going to meet. Often an attorney will be hired and then not follow through by staying in touch with the client. Having a set schedule beforehand can prevent this from occurring.

Do not hesitate to ask questions to your lawyer. A lawyer that is good will give you detailed updates often. If you do not feel your lawyer is sharing enough with you, you should get a new one.

If you are not completely comfortable with an attorney, keep on looking for someone else. This is true of their fee arrangement, too. Also, when it comes to the retainer, do not give the lawyer a blank check with your signature. Ask for a quote right away and go over the fee structure in details.

If you need an attorney for a business matter, ask for referrals from people you know in the business field. Businesses that frequently interact with lawyers may be able to recommend good ones to contact. If your case involves small business law, then get in touch with a banker, account, real estate broker, etc. The people in business who regularly deal with the law likely have a more informed opinion about lawyers than other people would.

Overworked lawyers cut corners, and that includes your case. Inquire if they can take on your case with what is on their plate already. If they are truthful about not having time for you, you will be able to look for a lawyer who does.

Try to gauge your expectations for lawyers when you hire one. If a lawyer says he can surely win your case, you must run the other way. No lawyer can know this. Nothing is ever set in stone, so don’t be mislead by outrageous claims.

Get ready to do some research prior to filing a Workers Compensation claim. Realize that each state has its own laws that spell out time frames for filing and proof of eligibility. Worker’s compensation is different from other types of court claims. This claim has different standards.

Learn where your lawyer got his or her law degree. Although it shouldn’t be the only thing that prevents you from using them, you should still know. The higher the quality of the educational institute, the more likely that they had to work very hard for their degree. Though a wonderful lawyer may have attended an average school, this information needs to be taken into consideration when making a decision.

Malpractice insurance protects your lawyer from damages caused by legal missteps. Because they want their premiums to stay low, they will surely try to handle your case properly and ethically. Put your trust in your lawyer, when it comes to handling your needs the right way.

Some lawyers just won’t work for you. However, learning about the different types of lawyers and legal issues will help you make a wise choice. Think about these tips and choose carefully. Good luck!

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Family Law Attorneys Dallas Texas

If you’ve just gone through a painful marriage and are considering divorce, one of the first things you need to do is find a divorce attorney. This sure sounds like an easy task to do. There are many divorce attorneys out there and you can find them online, on TV, on the radio and even on the yellow pages and classified ads section of your local daily. The question now is, which one is probably best for you? Which among these divorce attorneys will likely give you what you want out of the legal proceedings of your divorce? Among these divorce experts, will they actually have the power to put you in an advantageous position as you go through your trials?

One of the best resources available when it comes to locating a divorce lawyer is other people. If you have friends or family members who have been through a divorce, talk to them about the lawyer they selected to represent them. Ask if there were any attorneys that they considered, but later rejected, and why they chose to delete them as potential candidates. If you have worked with a certain lawyer or law firm in the past, contact them, explain your need and find out if they might be able to represent you. If they can’t, ask if they will refer you to someone who can.

Once you have located several potential candidates, set up a time to meet briefly with each of them, to determine the best fit for your needs. If you can’t meet with the lawyer directly, ask to visit her office. Take note of how the staff responds to you, as you will most likely be dealing with them for a good part of the divorce process. Are they pleasant and courteous? Do they seem helpful? Are they reasonably well-organized and knowledgeable? When you meet with the attorney, find out how much experience he has by asking about the number of divorce cases he has worked on. This is particularly important in cases that involve a significant amount of property or other assets, and in cases where custody of the children might be contested.

When preparing to meet with a Family Law Firm, it helps to be prepared. Just like at a doctor’s appointment, it is sometimes difficult to remember all the things that you need to convey to the doctor or what advice they have given you. By taking a few moments in advance to prepare yourself for the appointment, you are likely to have a more meaningful meeting with your Divorce Attorney.

For starters, list out any questions or concerns you would like to discuss with your Divorce Lawyer. Bring this list to the appointment to insure that you cover all your questions or concerns. In most cases, you are paying for this time and will want to make the most of that time and avoid having to call your Divorce Attorney with a question later. There is no such thing as a bad question for your Divorce Lawyer, so don’t be afraid to ask. The more you know about Nevada Family Law and your case, the better you will understand what is happening during your Divorce or Child Custody Case.

A lot of factors are at stake all throughout a divorce. These range from money, physical property, and custody of children. This can all change and end up completely different from what you may be expecting, especially if the best legal representation is not on your side. Take the time to discuss all aspects of your case and you will end up with the best defense you can afford.

During the legal parting of any two married people, a lot of things are at stake, both physically and emotionally. In addition, finances are a key element in terms of what is being sorted out in the courtroom and in terms of legal fees. You will want to retain the professional that will give you the greatest help available.

Birmingham Divorce And Family Law Attorney

At The Oncale Firm, we represent individuals in contested divorces, uncontested divorces and other family members law matters. Oftentimes, our clients are dealing with the legal program for the pretty initial time and are nervous, uncertain and, in some circumstances even scared of the potential outcomes and ramifications. We pride ourselves on being the calm in the middle of the storm, the guiding light and beacon of hope for our clients.

Statistics show us that most of us, at 1 time or another, will deal with divorce or some other substantial loved ones law concern either straight or by means of the involvement of a loved ones member. In occasions of crisis or uncertainty, it is crucial to have a shoulder to lean on and some location to turn for empathetic, understanding and well-reasoned facts and guidance. Our objective is to deliver every single of our clients with that comfort, to know that they are speaking with an individual who has empathy for their situation and is prepared to invest the time and effort to offer them with the understanding they need to have to really feel comfortable that they are producing the suitable choices for themselves and their family.

A Distinctive Sort Of Law Firm

In a lot of methods, The Oncale Firm is a distinctive type of law firm. Every single and every single client of the firm will have an initial consultation with our founder, Shane Oncale. Mr. Oncale will speak with you personally about your case and will answer any questions my may perhaps have for free as component of an preliminary consultation. If you decide to retain Mr. Oncale, he will personally speak to you when you call and will manage your case personally. If he refers you to another attorney or staff member in our workplace, that attorney or staff member will work with you on your case, personally take your calls and answer any questions you may well have. You will have a personal relationship with whoever works on your case and you will not just be another number. You will meet our founder and if you are ever unhappy with the service you are receiving, you will have a personal relationship and perfect to call him for further consultation or involvement.

Objective-Oriented Method-Driven Representation

In the handling of divorce and household law instances, we strive to offer a objective-oriented, technique-driven representation. We respect our clients adequate that we want them to be personally involved in their personal instances. I know saying that sounds a small odd, but, in quite a few law firms, the client’s involvement in setting the objectives and strategies of the case are bypassed and the case becomes far more about the ego and desires of the divorce attorney birmingham involved in the case than it does about the client. We think that for any representation to be effective, the client ought to be actively involved in setting the goals and determining the methods put to use to accomplish those goals. This is true from the smallest uncontested divorce case to the most complex high net worth divorce lawyer birmingham or child custody birmingham case. While the objectives may well be much less complex and the methods considerably easier, the concept remains the same. Whatever takes place in your divorce birmingham or household law birmingham case occurs to you. It does not take place to me and it does not occur to my law firm. For that cause, you will need to take a personal stake in your case and be involved in setting the goals and techniques for that case. We will help to you to set those goals and techniques and we will give input as to what goals and techniques are realistic, valuable and worth your hard-earned income. Even so, we will not dictate to you what you should do, what you have to do or what we are going to do. At every single step of the way, you will take an active role in your case and the strategies employed to attain our mutually agreed upon aim.

Call us right now at 205-313-6429 or get in touch with us by email to place us to the test or to put us to work for you. Preliminary consultations are usually free.

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Charlotte Family Law Attorney Angela McIlveen’s Story (704) 557-0131 I’m Angela McIlveen and I’m one of the partner attorneys at the McIlveen Family Law Firm….
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Obamacare a Potential Boon For Estate Looters, Probate Abusers

While the public voices serious concerns about proposed socialized health care plans, a group likely to quietly be applauding this move are grave robbers, property poachers, walker stalkers and other opportunists seeking to loot estates via probate instruments like wills, trusts, guardianships and powers of attorney. Disgruntled family members, wannabe heirs or unscrupulous members of the legal industry will likely find treatment of the elderly under this new health care approach helpful with Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA) actions in which probate venues or instruments are used to divert assets from intended heirs or beneficiaries.

The explanations of government-run health care being put forth defy logic and reasonable thinking.  A plan that purports to allow people to keep their current health care providers while it covers more people at a reduced cost and involves no rationing or delaying/withholding of care makes no sense without a serious increase to our country’s debt, to productive Americans’ tax bills and probably both.

People are rightfully questioning details of the proposed versions of legislation as revealed to date.  White House and Congressional leaders claim public outrage is contrived.  Diversion tactics aside, as the public learns more about potential “reforms,”  legitimate questions are surfacing over its cost implications, effectiveness in truly covering “all” Americans and the elder-hostile nature of its language.  Despite assurances against rationing or withholding care – especially for seniors, the terminally ill or those with life-threatening injuries – language in at least one of the versions appears to say otherwise.

After reviewing H.R. 3200 in preparation to address the recent GOP Congressional Dinner, Dr. Dave Janda, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and world-recognized expert on sports injury prevention, wrote “it should be clear that the same warning notice must be placed on The ObamaCare Plan as on a pack of cigarettes: Consuming this product will be hazardous to your health. ”  Dr. Janda’s analysis of the bill finds rationing and denying care as the plan’s underlying cost-cutting methods with rationing implemented by The National Health Care Board that “will approve or reject treatment for patients based on the cost per treatment divided by the number of years the patient will benefit from the treatment.”  So what happens to older Americans and how could this lead to an increase in IRA actions?

Implications for probate abuse or estate theft come as the bill discusses “Advance Care Planning Consultation” (p. 424) apparently available every five years upon becoming eligible for Medicare, but which “may be conducted more frequently than provided under paragraph (1) if there is a significant change in the health condition of the individual, including diagnosis of a chronic, progressive, life-limiting disease, a life-threatening or terminal diagnosis or life-threatening injury, or upon admission to a skilled nursing facility, a long-term care facility (as defined by the Secretary), or a hospice program.” (p. 428)

In this counseling, patients will learn about “the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title.” (p. 425) Wikipedia defines palliative care (from Latin palliare, to cloak) as any form of medical care or treatment that concentrates on reducing the severity of disease symptoms, rather than striving to halt, delay, or reverse progression of the disease itself or provide a cure.  The goal is to prevent and relieve suffering and to improve quality of life for people facing serious, complex illness.  In other words, patients are medicated or provided other pain relief means instead of receiving proactive medical treatment.

Elder financial abuse is frequently termed the crime of the 21st century. Though sometimes occurring posthumously, estate looting and other probate abuse fall into this category.  Estate disputes frequently include allegations of undue influence with the role of medication being a common point of contention.  If palliative care becomes a major tool in the government’s arsenal of health care cost-cutting measures, predators will seize upon this opportunity.

“Isolate, medicate, steal the estate” is a phrase commonly associated with the perpetration of IRA acts.  The medicate phase offers greatest opportunity for the use of undue influence that can lead to late-in-life and uncharacteristic changes in an estate plan.  Abandoning proactive medical treatments and instead artificially incapacitating our seniors in the name of “palliative care” will aid unscrupulous individuals in estate hijacking pursuits.  Similar concerns can be raised for the disabled or younger people with terminal illness or life-threatening injuries – especially when those individuals are attached to a significant estate as legal settlements can certainly provide.

The administration and Congressional leaders say absolutely their reform will work and be better for all Americans.  Of course, no final version is available for review and that currently released plans are merely proposals helps to deflect criticism and provides cover that “problems” will be fixed with subsequent revisions.

The federal government wants us to trust them.  This plan expects large groups of Americans to forfeit a flawed, but functioning health care system so as to provide coverage to 45.7 million previously uninsured “Americans” whose true numbers have been credibly questioned.  The degree of pressure to quickly approve this legislation despite its illogical economic premise and specific language clearly questionable to the longevity and welfare of many Americans – especially the elderly – is rightfully a major cause for concern.

Estate abuse and probate corruption are already threatening the property rights of many Americans and their heirs’ or beneficiaries’ rights of inheritance.  Provisions of this legislation – specifically doping rather than treating certain population segments – will only add to this problem.  This is not disinformation, it is not misinformation – it is merely a reasoned prediction based upon knowledge of the IRA issue including the opportunistic nature of the financial predators who perpetrate these acts.  Statements made here are not meant to scare or intimidate people, but merely to educate an unsuspecting public of an additional consequence likely to flow from the current health care proposals.

Estate thefts often being treated as civil rather than criminal matters have already encouraged a growth element to a sector of the legal industry and have provided financial incentive to others desiring to divert assets from intended beneficiaries.  It is a reasoned observation to state that increased numbers of heavily-medicated, especially elderly, people will likely further fuel this expansion in activity.

Lou Ann Anderson is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture. She is the Online Producer at and a Policy Advisor with Americans for Prosperity – Texas. Lou Ann may be contacted at

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Seeking Legal Representation? These Tips Might Help

If you have legal troubles, you must have a lawyer that is competent, honest, and experienced. You may not be certain what qualities your lawyer must possess, though. Use these tips so you make the right choice when you are looking for the perfect lawyer, because a good lawyer is indispensable.

Always know how to get a hold of your lawyer should you need him. Many people complain about this in their reviews. It’s not going to be pleasant if you’re left in the dark.

Keep your lawyer on retainer so you can ensure you’re prepared. You will be able to find the perfect lawyer on your time. Keeping an attorney on retainer helps give you a resource for legal advice.

Everything you tell your lawyer has to be kept confidential. This means he can’t discuss it with your family, competitors or anyone else, including the court.

Establish ahead of time when and where you will be able to have face-time with your attorney. Often an attorney will not contact their client for a long time after being hired. Getting a schedule established helps you not encounter this situation.

Remember that your lawyer is there to work for you, but listen to their advice. If you’re not comfortable with certain things, tell them so. Your attorney is one your side. However, you are but one of the many cases they handle.

Understand what you can afford. You may have a case, but can you afford it? Be sure you know just how much any lawyer you are thinking of hiring will charge you. Discuss with them your budget and your goals for hiring a lawyer. It is important to understand what the average cost of your case should be and what may affect your costs.

Before hiring an attorney, contact your local bar association to ensure no complaints have been filed against the attorney. If there’s a couple, they shouldn’t spoil the deal. Do hire another lawyer if they have tons of complaints.

Getting along well with your lawyer can only help in the long run. If you are not not feeling 100% comfortable, you should consider getting yourself a different lawyer. Be certain you trust your own instincts and choose an attorney whose personality works well with your personality.

Ask lawyers if you can do any tasks to cut down on costs. Maybe you can assist in getting the court appearance paperwork ready. You can pick up documents from the court so their staff doesn’t have to.

Avoid lawyers who look at your case as an easy win or no-brainer. If your lawyer says this, then you need a different lawyer. Legal matters can be difficult, so you should have a lawyer who will look for flaws and take all facts into consideration. Choose wisely here.

Ask your general personal lawyer to ask for a recommendation for a lawyer that will fit whatever you specific need is. Your regular lawyer is the perfect place to ask for a specific type of lawyer. A lawyer that you have a long-standing relationship with is much more likely to carefully consider the best person for you.

Show up for your consultation prepared. They get paid hourly. You will be charged if you call your lawyer or need to meet with them again. When you’re prepared, you will take up less of their time, and thus pay less in legal fees.

When looking for competent legal counsel, take advantage of online resources. Most lawyers have a strong online presence to promote their services. Take a look at the website the firm has and see if it’s professional looking. A website that does not look professional could be a sign that the lawyer you are considering is not very successful.

When a loved one dies at work, family often is owed compensation. Worker’s compensation is not only for the worker, but for the immediate family as well. Ask your lawyer about the legal procedure and the paperwork you need to take care of.

Know that as important as your case may be to you, it may not be the same way for your lawyer. As a matter of fact, he might have other cases that are more important. Keep in mind that your level of urgency will not affect your lawyer’s level of urgency, so stay calm.

Now you are better equipped to find the best lawyer for your needs. Use this guide as a mental checklist when interviewing lawyers who might take your case. Then you’ll find a great lawyer and end up with a positive outcome.

Estate Planning – Four Steps to Avoid Probate

Many times it happens when a person dies – a major chunk of the estate is taken away from the rightful heirs during probate. In addition, while the probate proceedings are going on, the estate is frozen and the spouse and children cannot get access to any of the assets for weeks and sometimes for months.

Estate planning is something most of us try to avoid but little do we realize that the cost of procrastination has to be borne by our loved ones. Here are four steps that will help you avoid probate so that while your loved ones are grieving, they will not be under any financial stress.

Step 1: You have make sure that you have the right beneficiaries mentioned on your life insurance and retirement accounts. If the information is correct, then all funds and proceeds like annuities, retirement fund and life insurance money will directly go the beneficiaries.

Step 2: For all your other accounts, request your bank or broker to put a Pay on Death (POD) designation or Transfer on Death (TOD) registration. If the bank account has POD, there will be no need for probate and the proceeds will go directly to the beneficiary. The same also applies to TOD registration.

Step 3: Check the titles of all your other assets and accounts. Assets that have joint tenants with right of survivorship title go directly to the surviving joint tenant and thereby avoiding probate. However, here you should note is that the joint tenant’s creditors will also have access to the assets and accounts; for those with taxable estate, joint tenancy is not the ideal way out.

Step 4: If you large assets, the best way forward is a revocable living trust. You can transfer assets like investments, vehicles, bank accounts, jewelry, antiques, furniture and real estate to the trust. Although the assets become part of the trust, you still have control and access to them.

Taking these steps does not mean that you should not draw out a will, you should. In a will you can cover other matters that are not covered by beneficiary designation, account titling and living trust. Make sure you take steps to minimize estate tax and other issues like step-up in cost basis and community property laws, if applicable.

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