Litigation in Will/Estate Matters

June 20th, 2014 | Posted by Andrew Micheletti in Estate Planning | Law Blog | LItigation - (Comments Off on Litigation in Will/Estate Matters)

The passing of a loved one is a traumatic experience in and of itself.  Often times this pain is exacerbated when it comes time to distribute the assets of the decedent’s estate.  Disputes may arise regarding the language of the Will or even possibly the distribution of benefits that are meant to be payable-on-death.  In some instances, the beneficiaries can work together to reach some sort of compromise.  Other times, however, it is only through litigation that these disputes reach a resolution.

Wills can be challenged for a variety of different reasons.  They can be challenged on the grounds that they were not properly executed, that the testator was incompetent at the time they executed their Will, and they can be challenged on the grounds that the testator was unduly influenced into changing their estate plan amongst other things.  Likewise, the naming of a beneficiary by the decedent to receive benefits that are considered payable-on-death, and therefore not subject to a Will/probate, can be challenged for various reasons including actual or constructive fraud, duress, abuse of a confidential relationship, mistake, commission of a wrong or some form of unconscionable conduct.

Whether or not to proceed through litigation in these types of matters is a decision that must be made with careful consideration.  Not only is the value of the estate and or benefits at issue, but so too are the potential costs of litigation and, as these instances often involve family, the potential impact the litigation may have on your family.

An attorney can explain the process of these types of litigation to you and evaluate your claims to help you determine the validity of your case and the likelihood of success.  It is important to have an attorney who is experienced in these types of litigation represent you as the claims can often involve several different areas of law.

If you have questions regarding these matters, please call Sitzmann Law Firm Ltd.

andrew@sitzmannlaw.com

TOP TEN REASONS TO CREATE AN ESTATE PLAN

May 14th, 2014 | Posted by Sara Micheletti in Estate Planning | Law Blog - (Comments Off on TOP TEN REASONS TO CREATE AN ESTATE PLAN)

An Estate Plan is about more than just your Will and planning for what happens after your death. A good Estate Plan will also include planning for what happens if you become incapacitated. You should also consider including a Power of Attorney for Health Care, Advance Directive, Power of Attorney for Finances, Transfer of Death Deed for any real estate and possibly a trust in your Estate Plan. My reasons to create an Estate Plan include considerations for these additional documents.

  1. Keep the Family Peace. After your death, family members fighting over money can be an explosive, nasty legal battle. Memorializing your wishes minimizes the family discord so there is no room for disagreement about what you wanted and what happens after you’re gone.

 

  1. Protect Your Loved Ones from making hard medical choices. Spare your loved ones from difficult situations, during your life and after your death. Make your wishes for your end of life care known! With proper planning, you can make difficult medical decisions now, and spare your loved ones the pain (and possible disagreement) of making those decisions later.

 

  1. Loss of capacity. Planning ahead lets YOU decide who will manage your heath care and financial decisions if you become incompetent and unable to manage your own affairs.   If you don’t plan for this possibility, you could end up going through an expensive judicial process to appoint a guardian.

 

  1. Minor children. If you are leaving assets to minor children, you should not leave those assets outright to the minor children. A proper estate plan will also allow you to choose who will care for your children if you die, and who will take care of the money you leave them.  Children with special needs require specialized planning to avoid losing necessary benefits.

 

  1. Smooth, inexpensive transition.Think of all the things you would need to sign to transfer bank accounts, property and real estate out of your name. After death, you cannot sign for yourself, so the court appoints a Personal Representative to essentially sign for you, a process referred to as PROBATE.  If you plan ahead, there are more efficient ways to transfer your assets. Probate is a manageable process, but it is usually time consuming, public, and can be costly.

 

  1. Peace of mind. Your children will stop pestering you to get this done and you will have security and satisfaction of knowing your affairs are in order.

 

  1. Control over the process. Having your estate planning in place and current is the only way you control who will handle decisions upon your incapacity, your estate after your death, and who will inherit from you. If you do not carefully plan, you are opening the door to disputes and the possibility of Court intervention.

 

  1. Choosing your heirsYou have worked hard to build your assets; you should decide how they are distributed after your death.

 

  1. Save money. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Investing your time and money now is far less expensive than waiting until it is too late.  Sitzmann Law Firm offers predictable, flat fee estate planning.

 

  1. Inventory your assets. When you plan your estate, it forces you to think about how to maximize the value of everything you own. Making a list of your assets will make it far easier for your loved ones to transfer your assets after you death. Keep your inventory and a list of your online passwords in a safe place and tell someone where it is!

 

Call your attorney to begin the estate planning process!

 

Written by Attorney Sara Micheletti, sara@sitzmannlaw.com