Do you really need a Probate Attorney for your estate?

No state requires you to use a lawyer to probate an estate, but probate can be complicated, and you can be personally liable if you do something wrong. One minor omission, one failure to send a copy of the petition, or a missed deadline can cause everything to come to a grinding halt. Among other problems, this kind of mistake is likely to make you unpopular with the beneficiaries.

If the estate you are working with is simple and you have clear instructions and copies of the forms you need, you may be able to go through the probate process without getting legal advice, but if complications arise you will need legal help of some kind.

For example, if any of the following circumstances exist, it is recommended that you seek legal counsel:

  • If there is a complicated tax situation, such as a dispute over past taxes;
  • Ambiguities in the wording of the will;
  • Disputed claims, such as a spouse who says property left to someone else is community property;
  • Problems with disputed debts or unfinished contracts, such as the sale of a business that wasn’t completed;
  • A significant amount of property left to a minor who needs to have a guardian appointed; or
  • If the estate doesn’t have enough assets to pay all the debts.

You can avoid probate by setting up a Living Trust

Do you need a will or a living trust?  Even if you are a person of modest means, you have an estate—and several strategies to choose from to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes and in a timely fashion: your estate plan. Carpenter & Brown can help you determine the right strategy, based on your individual circumstances.

A will is a written document—signed and witnessed—that indicates how your property will be distributed at the time of your death. It is revocable and subject to amendment at any time during your lifetime. It also allows you to appoint a guardian for your minor children.

A living trust provides lifetime and after-death property management. If you are serving as your own trustee, the trust instrument will provide for a successor upon your death or incapacity. Court intervention is not required.

Livings trusts also are used to manage property. If a person is disabled by accident or illness, the successor trustee can manage the trust property. As a result, the expense, publicity, and inconvenience of court-supervised distribution of your estate can be avoided.

If a living trust is properly written and funded you can:

  • Avoid probate on your assets
  • Plan for the possibility of your own incapacity
  • Control what happens to your property after you are gone
  • Use it for any size estate; and
  • Prevent your financial affairs from becoming a matter of public record

Contact Carpenter & Brown in Ft. Lauderdale today to learn more about how they can help you with probate or establishing a living trust.

If you are a family member dealing with probate, our attorneys can assist you with the cumbersome legal process that it entails.  If you want to spare your loved ones the trouble of dealing with probate after your demise, we can help you set up a living trust.  We have the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell, a directory and community for legal counsel.  Call us today at (954) 771-1850 or visit our website to learn more about how we can assist you.