There are many legal services estate planning attorneys are involved with on a regular basis. It’s not just when a person dies either, estate planning services should be an ongoing and ever-evolving process throughout the course of ones lifetime. Unfortunately, over half (51%) of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 don’t have wills and that number balloons to 64% when talking about the general public overall.
It’s one of those areas that most people would just rather not think about, let alone spend time and money putting it all together. While it really isn’t as complicated and scary as some people make it out to be, estate planning services are incredibly important and there’s more to it than just writing a will. Here are three of the main aspects associated with estate and will lawyers.
1.) Probate: Probate law is the legal process involved in administering the estate of a person who’s died under the guidelines of their will. A probate court will decide the legal validity of claims and disputes in the given person’s will and make decisions based on the information available to them. The term comes from the Latin word, probare literally meaning to test, try, prove, or examine. It was first used in the English language in 1463.
2.) Executor: Another aspect of probate is that it grants the legal power to carry out the diseased parties wishes to the executor. The executor is the person who the person writing the will designates as the one that will be in charge of making sure their will is carried out in the way they wanted. Though usually named implicitly in the will itself the executor, if they do not do so, the probate court will decide on an acceptable executor.
3.) Will/Living Trust: The finally and most important aspect is of course writing the living will or trust itself. While wills tend to refer to assets, money, and actual things owned, trusts usually designate who will receive actual property/real estate. Trust law specifically was taken from Roman times and remains one of the most important factors when dealing with estate planning.
Another significant, but rare estate aspect to consider is federal estate taxes. However these only apply to individuals whose estates are valued at more than $5.43 million. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, most people won’t have to worry about those.