Anchorage Probate Lawyer

Probate Lawyer Anchorage, AK - probate stamp on paperwork

In tough financial times, people carefully choose their spending priorities. Surprisingly, many Americans never get around to making a will. This is especially true for younger Americans. Many people assume that creating a will is not necessary, or that it is something that they can put off until much later. Since death is never something we want to discuss or even think about, making a will can be an uncomfortable task. Still, young people – especially young married couples in Alaska and those with children – should strongly consider scheduling a meeting with a probate lawyer in Anchorage, AK who can guide them through the process of setting up an estate plan. It is important to be prepared for any kind of life event, especially since you never know what can happen in the future.

Estate Planning Basics

Many people have a simple idea of what estate planning is, but may not necessarily know about the finer details of what goes into it. In basic terms, estate planning is the process of preparing legal strategies to manage your estate, which includes but is not limited to securing your assets, establishing your heirs, and making decisions on the type of medical care you get when you are elderly. There are many benefits to estate planning, and they not only impact you but your loved ones that survive you. 

One of the estate planning documents that many people are most familiar with are wills, or last will and testament. A will is where you can list your specific instructions for how to manage your estate and which of your possessions and assets that you will give away. In your will, you also include information such as the appointed executor and any beneficiaries. There are many components that go into a will, so you may benefit from getting legal assistance to ensure that your will is complete, valid and mistake-free. The following points are some of the things that you should know about writing wills. 

Wills Do Not Just Control Money

It is a common misconception that if you have little in the way of financial resources, then a will is not necessary. But wills are not just for the wealthy. People from a variety of income and financial backgrounds can benefit from writing a will. Say you have a special family keepsake or two. Do you want them dumped at a pawn shop or left to someone you care about? Or maybe you have specific requests regarding your final arrangements. If you have specific ideas in mind for how you want your assets controlled, a will makes sure your voice is heard. A will often makes it easier for a family to resolve disputes and deal with your possessions, no matter how small your estate. They won’t have to guess what your intentions or interests are because they can just refer to your will. Wills also tell the world what you wanted to be done with those personal possessions.

Couples With Children Should Consider Making a Will

Young couples are often advised that they should invest in a solid term life insurance policy, especially when having children. It is often suggested by financial advisors that one should purchase 10 times their annual income. While life insurance can provide an excellent source of reliable income in the unfortunate event that one or both adults in the home should die prematurely, it cannot set forth how matters will be handled.

Wills can be used to ensure proper distribution of cash savings as well as tangible property. Likewise, many people come to a marriage with special heirlooms that they may not want leaving their own family and ending up in someone else’s possession who is not a blood relation, such as pianos, jewelry, and so forth. A will can be essential in preserving these wishes. An Anchorage, AK probate lawyer can help you draw up a will that will stipulate exactly how you want your estate to be distributed.

The Case for Making a Will as a Couple with Children

Couples with children will usually have more assets than couples without, and they also have more concerns to manage when it comes to their estate planning. While living in the present and enjoying your time together is definitely an important part of building a relationship, it’s also important to prepare for the future by making a will as soon as possible, even if you have no intention of leaving behind much.

Everyone Benefits When You Plan Properly

There’s no question that planning your estate is important. If you don’t, it can lead to all sorts of problems down the road — problems that could affect you and your family, like a court battle over who inherits what. But planning your estate isn’t just about avoiding difficult legal battles or ensuring that an heir gets something, it also has positive effects on everyone involved. You probably have someone in mind to take care of your children should anything happen to you. Of course, if one or both parents dies before their child is grown, that person won’t be able to provide for them financially without some kind of inheritance from their deceased loved one. A will ensures that they get enough money so they’re taken care of until they’re old enough to live on their own.

What Happens if One Parent Dies Unexpectedly

Unexpected deaths are never easy. But they can be especially difficult on couples with children. At any moment, one partner may be left in charge of raising their kids alone and wondering how they’ll pay bills, manage taxes, and more. Having a will can help alleviate some of these concerns if something were to happen to one parent before he or she could make sure that everything was in order. A will, which is fairly simple to create, provides your heirs and executor (the person charged with carrying out your wishes) guidance about what to do once you die. With proper legal assistance from an experienced probate lawyer, you’ll have time to put important decisions down on paper before it’s too late. The last thing you want is for family members to have disagreements over your estate when the dust has barely settled on your passing. The best way to avoid this unpleasant situation is by taking the time now to write up a will and make arrangements ahead of time. You’ll also want to consider drawing up other important documents such as power of attorney, living wills, healthcare directives, etc., so that both parents know who’s making the decisions should anything go wrong unexpectedly. Taking care of things beforehand can save families heartache later — if only because there’s less that needs arguing over!

A Will Saves Time and Stress for Your family

Having a will in place helps ensure that all your wishes are met and also protects your family from going through probate. When you die without a will, each state has laws that dictate how to distribute your assets. These laws vary widely, meaning in one state your spouse may get everything and in another state certain assets may be given to specific family members before others (the degree of variation varies depending on which state you reside). This can create significant delays and confusion during an already difficult time.

Anchorage Probate Law Infographic


Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Will

When you are writing a will, be clear about what kind of decisions you want made about your estate. For example, if you want to donate to specific organizations, list their names and the amount you want to give. This also applies to your beneficiaries and the type and amount of assets that they will receive. Be as clear as possible in your will so that there are no disputes among your loved ones. Another thing that you should do is update your will after important life events or every couple of years so that it remains up to date. 

Probate is another key area to consider when writing a will. It can be a lengthy and costly process when your estate is subject to probate. There may be ways where you can avoid probate altogether if you are thoughtful and strategic. Get to know your options regarding probate so that you can see whether you are able to bypass it. 

Anchorage Probate Law FAQs

Why Does Probate Exist?

Probate can accomplish many important tasks, including transferring ownership to heirs, collecting taxes and giving creditors an opportunity to file claims against the estate.

How Long Does Probate Take to Complete?

As a probate lawyer Anchorage, AK residents trust can confirm, probate has a reputation for being a long and drawn out process. However, how long probate takes depends on many different factors. While some estates can close within several months, others can take over a year to complete. Generally, the more complexities an estate has, the longer the probate process will take. For example, if there are difficulties locating heirs or someone contests the will, probate may take longer.

Who Is Responsible for Dealing with Probate?

If there is a will in place, the executor of the estate will be responsible for handling the probate process. If there is not a will, a judge will appoint an administrator to deal with probate proceedings.

Where Is a Probate Petition Filed?

Typically, a probate petition is filed in the county where the decedent resided at the time of death. If it is unclear where the decedent lived, you may have to show proof where the decedent owned property, where they registered to vote or where they held a driver’s license.

How Much Does Probate Cost?

How much you can expect to pay for probate will depend on many different factors, such as how big the estate is, if there is a valid will and whether or not someone contests the will. A probate lawyer in Anchorage, AK may be able to estimate how much the probate process will cost.

What Does It Mean If a Will Is Contested?

If a relative doesn’t believe he or she is getting a fair share, that person may decide to contest the will in court. For instance, if someone believes the decedent was unduly influenced or lacked testamentary capacity at the time the will was executed, he or she may challenge the document. This, unfortunately, can delay the probate process. 

Can Probate Be Avoided?

Yes, probate can be avoided in some situations. For example, assets that are placed in living trusts do not have to go through probate. Establishing joint ownership of property and gifting property while you are alive can also help avoid probate.

Is It Necessary to Hire a Probate Lawyer?

Although the law does not require you to hire a lawyer for the probate process, it’s within your best interest to do so. Even smaller estates can have complexities, so it pays to have someone knowledgeable and experienced on your side. A probate lawyer in Anchorage, AK can make sure you file the required documents accurately and on time. He or she can answer all your questions and make the probate process as smooth as possible.

Consulting Our Experienced Attorney Is Your Best Choice

The steps to make a will and estate plan vary from state to state, as they each own their own specific requirements for how it should be done. Alaska law has many complex and sometimes misunderstood rules that can lead to the invalidation of improperly drafted wills. Before you get started, you need to know the basics. Get help from a qualified lawyer so that you can receive personalized guidance when you are working on your will. This is a recommended option because they can assist you step by step. Although there are many websites that claim that do-it-yourself wills are just as valid as wills that drafted by a qualified Anchorage, AK probate lawyer, there is absolutely no substitute for consulting with a skilled lawyer.

Call Theus Law Offices to schedule a free and confidential consultation and find out how our firm can help. No matter how old you are or where you are in life, it is never too early to schedule a consultation to review your estate plan.