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Distribution of Assets in Probate

Probate Litigation

What is Probate

Probate is the legal process you must go through to transfer assets once someone has passed away. The case’s complexity depends upon the amount and type of property the deceased person owned, whether it was physical property, fiduciary, or if it is divided between more than one individual. Another aspect that occasionally arises is whether or not the division of these assets spurs disputes among the beneficiaries and what to do if that happens. The lawyers at Yonano Law Offices, PC, can answer your questions.

If There Is A Will, Do We Still Have To Go Through Probate?

A common misperception of estate planning is that if there is a will, going through probate is unnecessary since the document clarifies the division of assets. This is untrue. The probate process is the legal process in which they will be proven valid and authenticated as the deceased’s last word and testament. While there are some circumstances in which probate can be avoided, it’s beneficial for all parties, especially if there are disputes over the distribution of assets. Probate allows an impartial mediation to get involved through the courts if necessary.

Can Estate Planning Help My Kids Avoid Disputes?

With proper planning, it is possible to avoid disputes between survivors. Planning before the inevitable can address many of these issues. One of the most important steps is to draft a will explicitly stating who inherits what type of property. If those left behind know your wishes, there is less room for argument. Questions to consider: who gets the house? If there is a business, what happens to it? Are there other assets to consider?

In addition to writing a will, some people give specific directions within the will. For example, they direct that their home be sold and all the proceeds be split evenly between their survivors. Or, in some cases, there may be circumstances that lead to a person being excluded from a will. There is no law or rule stating that this is not allowed. Suppose you are considering this course of action. In that case, you should be aware that the individual who has been disinherited frequently challenges it in probate court, as it often involves terrible feelings between the deceased person and the affected person. It makes sense for the person writing the will to sit with the individual beforehand and explain their decision.

Another option is setting up a testamentary trust. Trusts of this nature are created to help manage the estate assets and will also help reduce the estate taxes. They will go into effect once the estate’s owner passes away. The point of a trust is that it sets specific parameters around the way assets are paid to beneficiaries. For example, a child may gain full access to their inheritance once they reach their 21st birthday. This ensures that they are mature enough to manage it entirely. Until that time, it will be handled by a trustee (usually a lawyer.)

One of the lawyers from Yonano Law Offices, PC, can walk you through writing an estate plan that works well for your family. Call 916-894-8794 for more information.

How Do I Stop Disputes From Happening?

Losing a loved one is a terrible experience. Emotions run high; sometimes, it is difficult to think clearly and view the situation calmly. Grief clouds our better judgment, and understandably, sometimes people need help finding their way through.

Several different disputes arise after the loss of a loved one. If you know some of the typical ones, it may be easier to guard against them and prevent them from happening in your family.

Poor Fiduciary Choice

The job of the executor of the will most frequently falls on the shoulders of the eldest child, and in many cases, this is a perfectly appropriate choice; however, in some situations, it may not be;

it is imperative during estate planning to ensure that the person acting as executor is up to fulfilling the responsibilities of the position as required. The person chosen for this position must be at least 18 years of age and be patient and emotionally grounded. Choosing someone who is financially responsible is also important because you know that their decision-making process can be trusted.

Contested Wills and Trusts

Another dispute probate court frequently sees is the will or trusts contested by survivors. The primary questions brought to the court are often questions of validity or whether or not the will is legitimate. These types of challenges can be particularly emotional for the parties involved. Usually, family members cannot accept the terms laid out in the will or trust or, in some cases, that the individual has passed away. It may be part of the grief process or other family dynamics getting in the way.

Conversely, there are other instances in authentic situations in which the deceased has been taken advantage of or the estate is improperly managed. It is appropriate for the court to intervene.

No matter the situation, seeking legal counsel to work through this process is imperative.

Alternative Approaches

In some cases, you may be able to sidestep some of these disputes by gifting the majority of your estate to your heirs during your lifetime or drafting “no-contest” clauses into your will, which might discourage your survivors from challenging the terms of your will. Call Yonano Law Offices, PC, at 916-894-8794 to talk with one of the probate lawyers about your family’s estate planning needs.

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