Lake Charles Probate Lawyer
Estate planning can be difficult to think about. People do not like to consider their own mortality and even the thought of your loved ones losing someone they lean on is difficult for most. This is why you need a good probate lawyer in Lake Charles, Louisiana from Theus Law Firm to assist you. One of our experienced lawyers will know what kind of things need to be in place for estate planning and how to do it so that your documents hold up even after you are gone.
When You Should Begin Estate Planning
It is important to do estate planning sooner, rather than later. You never know what twists and turns life may throw at you, which is why it is crucial to plan your estate before anything bad happens. First, it can help you plan for yourself in case you ever become incapacitated. For example, you can choose a medical power of attorney and even write about what you want to happen if you are ever injured and unconscious. Second, you will have a plan in place to take care of your loved ones, which will hopefully give you peace of mind if you are ever in a difficult situation. You can always change your estate some as time goes by, but it does take time to create legal documents, which is why it is good if you can have some ready with the help of a probate lawyer in Louisiana.
The Top 5 Reasons Why You Need to Do Estate Planning
Estate planning isn’t something most people look forward to, but it’s an essential task that should be taken seriously. Having the right estate plan in place can have many benefits in the long term, including reducing stress on your family members, saving them money, and helping them avoid legal issues. If you need more convincing that estate planning is important, here are five reasons why you need to do it now.
Number 1 – To Avoid Probate
Probate is a court-supervised process for transferring a person’s assets after they die. If you die without a will or other estate planning documents, your assets will go through probate and be distributed according to your state’s laws. Probate can be a long and expensive process, so avoiding it is one of the main reasons to do estate planning.
Number 2 – To Avoid Tax Burdens
One of the main reasons people do estate planning is to avoid having their loved ones deal with a large tax burden after they’re gone. When you die, your estate (everything you own) is subject to taxation. The government taxes your estate at what’s called the death rate, which can be as high as 55%. This means that if you have a $1 million estate, your loved ones could be responsible for paying up to $550,000 in taxes! By doing proper estate planning, you can minimize the amount of taxes your loved ones will have to pay. There are a number of ways to do this, including using trusts and giving gifts during your lifetime.
Number 3 – To Avoid Confusion About What Happens After Death
If you don’t have a plan in place, your family will have to make a lot of decisions after you die. What will happen to your house? Your money? Your possessions? Your pets? Without a plan, your loved ones will have to guess what you would have wanted, and they may not guess correctly. It could lead to arguments and more confusion than necessary. That’s why it is important for each person in the family to know their role, so that when the time comes, they can carry out those wishes as best as possible.
Number 4 – To Protect Your Assets Against Legal Challenges
Another reason people do estate planning is to protect their assets against legal challenges. If you don’t have a plan in place, your assets could be at risk if you were to get sued or divorced. A well-drafted estate plan can help shield your assets from these types of challenges.
Number 5 – And finally, For the Sake of Peace of Mind
You want to be prepared for anything and everything that life throws your way, and estate planning is one way to do that. With an estate plan in place, you can rest assured knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of financially if something happens to you. It may not be the most pleasant thing to think about, but it’s important to have a plan in place in case of an unexpected death. If you don’t have a plan, your family will have to make difficult decisions during a time of grief – and they may not make the decisions that you would want them to make. Contact an estate planning lawyer at Theus Law Offices today for help!
How a Probate Lawyer Can Help Your Family
An experienced probate lawyer in Lake Charles, LA from Theus Law Firm will be able to help you create legal documents to appoint an executor for your will, a medical power of attorney, among other things to ensure you and your family are both taken care of in case anything were to happen to you. It is crucial to think about these things ahead of time so your family has as few questions as possible upon your passing. This will minimize the amount of fighting or disagreements between your loved ones. By laying out as much as possible in a will and other documents you can create with your lawyer, you are giving your friends and family the gift of peace. They will be able to focus on executing your wishes and celebrating your life, rather than going through the headache of probate alone.
What Are the Steps in an Average Probate Process?
While there can be different steps depending upon the case, the overall probate process follows these seven main steps:
- Confirming/Naming the Executor: Usually, the executor named is an heir such as a child. After being named, two people you know will have to sign an affidavit that pertains to Death, Domicile, and lastly, Heirship. All pleadings will be conducted via court along with the Will and if all the paperwork properly adheres to the law, the Judge will then sign an Order and the independent executor will be officially declared.
- Estate Account: Armed with their new “Letters of Independent Executorship” the executor will go to the necessary financial organizations/institutions to present certified copies of their “Letters”. Upon doing so the Estate Account will be opened along with the transfer of funds from the deceased’s account.
- Selling Estate Assets: While certain assets may be divided between heirs as laid out in the will, as a whole the executor is allowed to sell the home and other assets such as vehicles. The sales will go into the estate account.
- A Thorough List of All the Assets and Liabilities: The attorney’s office will file and prepared a thorough list of all the estate’s assets as well as debts and other expenses.
- Petition for Possession: All heirs are required to agree to and sign off on each court pleadings and this includes the Petition for Possession. During this process, the heirs ask their assigned judge to sign a Judgement of Possession which transfers the assets to the appropriate heirs as laid out in the Will. This entire process can take anywhere between weeks to several months depending upon how many heirs there are, the total number of assets, etc. Additionally, sometimes there can be contention between the heirs that can delay things even further and may even need to be remedied by mediation and potentially litigation.
- Transferring the Estate: Once everything is settled a certified copy of the Possession of Judgements will be filed into the Conveyance Records. This process transfers the property’s title to the appropriate heirs.
- Final Disbursements: Lastly, after all necessary expenses such as lawyer fees estate expenses, debts, etc. are paid then the executor is obligated to disburse any remaining funds to the other heirs, if any.
While the process may seem fairly straight-forward complications such as contention between heirs or a Will that isn’t detailed enough can cause delays. As such, some important tips may include designating an executor who you know is trustworthy and has you and your estate’s best interests in mind, potentially communicating to your heirs prior or during the process of drafting your Will, and lastly having a probate lawyer by your side. Not only will the probate lawyer expedite the entire process, but they will make sure that the Will is very clear, adheres to necessary requirements, and leaves as few room as possible for contention.
What You Should not Believe About Probate
As a probate lawyer Lake Charles, LA residents trust can confirm, probate has earned a poor reputation over the years. Many people assume that it is a long and expensive process and try to think of different ways to get out of it. However, the process is widely misunderstood. Here are a few misconceptions about probate that you should not believe.
- Probate always take years to complete. Many people worry that probate will take multiple years to finalize. As a result, they will have to wait a long time to receive their inheritances and get on with their lives. However, for most estates, probate can be completed within a year. On rare occasions, the process can take longer. For instance, if someone decides to challenge the will, probate may take longer than normal.
- Probate will eat up the assets in an estate. This is another common concern people have. While probate does cost money, it is not as expensive as some people think. It is usually just a small percentage of the value of the estate. If litigation is involved, however, the costs can rise.
- Having a will can avoid probate. Just because there is a proper will in place, doesn’t mean that probate is avoided. A will just names a decedent’s assets and beneficiaries and documents his or her wishes. The document still has to be proven valid in court through the probate process. As a Lake Charles probate lawyer can confirm, a will may be considered invalid if the deceased was unduly influenced at the time the document was executed or was not of sound mind.
- Without a will, the state will take your assets. It is always a good idea to have a proper will in place. Having a will can make the probate process easier for your family members. However, not having a will does not mean that the state automatically takes your assets. If you die without a will, probate will likely turn your estate over to your spouse, children and other relatives. If the state can’t find any surviving relatives, then they may take your assets.
- It is not necessary to hire a probate lawyer. Although you are not legally required to hire a probate lawyer, it may be in your best interest to go through. Probate can come with complexities, so you want someone knowledgeable and experienced to answer all of your questions. A lawyer can help streamline the process and anticipate possible issues down the road.
- Wills can’t be contested. Even if you have followed all of the proper procedures to establish a will, it still has a chance of being contested. All wills do. For example, if you gave a bigger inheritance to one child than the rest, the other children may get upset and challenge the will. They may believe that they deserve their fair share. Challenging the will, unfortunately, can slow down the probate process considerably.
Contact Theus Law Firm Today
Do not hesitate to reach out to a probate lawyer in Lake Charles from Theus Law Firm to begin working on your estate today. One of our experienced lawyers will make sure you have everything done that you need for the probate process and that your wishes will be executed once you are gone. We will ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible and that your loved ones are taken care of — both in the will we can help you create and after your passing when all of your documents need to be brought up again. Contact us today to get started.