Author: MatadorAdmin

Home / Articles posted by MatadorAdmin

Why Should I Hire a Trust Litigation Attorney?

Estate Planning Law Firm

Litigation is generally an emotional process, especially when several family members are arguing and disputing their legacy. Navigating probate court can be a frustrating, tiring, and irritating process. When no estate plan is in place, the descendants and beneficiaries of a deceased individual will have to wait for the estate to go through the probate process before it can be distributed. Individuals who pass away having created a will still have to go through probate. However, options to work around the government-imposed estate plan exist, and it’s a good idea to be aware of them before it’s too late. 

What is a Trust?

Trusts are very helpful in terms of estate planning. Items held in trusts aren’t subject to the probate process. Probate can be lengthy, and it can be expensive. Trusts are a way that lawyers avoid that process for certain assets. A trust is an arrangement that allows a third party, called the trustee, to hold the assets for a beneficiary or beneficiaries. It is a legal vehicle that significantly expands your options for managing your assets. This is true whether you’re trying to pass them on to your children or shield your wealth from taxes. 

A trust can also provide the ability to control not only who gets your assets, but also how the money will be paid out. That can be a critical consideration if the beneficiary’s ability to properly handle money is in question.

Duties and Obligations of Trustees

Being a trustee is a significant responsibility with many duties and obligations. Some of these include:

  • Not communicating with beneficiaries effectively
  • Failing to perform routine activities or duties
  • Stealing from the trust
  • Mismanaging property or real estate held in the trust
  • Failing to pay bills associated with trust
  • Not providing standard accounting services
  • Transferring assets to non-beneficiaries
  • Selling or liquidating trust assets inappropriately 

Trust litigation can happen due to misconduct or actual, real fraud on the part of the trustee. Or, it can happen because of misunderstandings and lack of sufficient or clear communication between the trustee and beneficiaries and other interested parties.

Why Hire a Trust Litigation Attorney?

A trust litigation attorney is probably necessary when:

  • Issues with interpretation exist
  • A trust is not set up properly
  • A trustee does not fulfill their duties
  • The trust’s validity is in question
  • An amendment to the trust is in question
  • Undue influence or elder abuse occurred
  • There are disputed claims for or against the trust
  • Disputes exist between beneficiaries
  • A trustee must be removed
  • The grantor of the trust lacked capacity
  • A trustee misappropriated funds (risky investment, theft, etc.)
  • The accounting is contested

When a trustee fails in their responsibilities, litigation may be necessary. If a beneficiary believes the trustee is not assuming their duties adequately, they can pursue legal action to remove the trustee. A trust litigation attorney can defend your interests and reach a resolution that restores your peace of mind. 

A lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced in trust litigation can help you determine your options to resolve your matter best. Contact a lawyer for more information or to schedule a consultation.

 

Thanks to Citadel Law Firm, a  trust lawyer in Chandler, AZ, for their insight into estate planning and why you should hire a lawyer for trust litigation.

Is a Will or Trust Better?

Is a Will or Trust Better?

Estate Planning Attorney in St. Peters, Missouri

If you are starting the process of planning your estate, you are most likely trying to figure out if a will or trust is better for your particular estate planning needs.  If you are like most people, you are probably a bit confused about what is different about these two options. This simple guide will provide all the information you need to decide which is best for you. Whatever you decide, you should speak with an estate planning lawyer to get your will or trust set up.

Will Vs. Trust

While they do accomplish the same goal, a will, and a trust function very differently. You probably have a good idea of how a will functions. You essentially set it up, and it details who gets what portions of your estate in the event of your death. A will is designed specifically for distributing an individual’s belongings after death. A trust, on the other hand, can be used for this same goal, but it can also be useful for distributing a living person’s belongings or gifting items to individuals. When you set up a trust, you transfer your belongings to a trustee and set up any conditions you want. When these conditions are met, the belongings are transferred from the trustee to whomever you specified.

The Benefits of Each

There are benefits and downsides to both these options. Many people talk as if a trust is strictly better than a will, but there are some advantages to having a will that many people miss. The primary benefit of a will is that you can continue to use your possessions after setting it up. Conversely, after creating a trust, the possessions are in the care of the trustee, and you cannot benefit from them or use them. Additionally, wills are safer. If you can trust the trustee completely, you have nothing to worry about. However, it is inherently a little riskier to transfer your possessions to someone else, rather than keeping them yourself, no matter who that person is.

It is true that a trust offers a wide variety of benefits over a will:

  • Ability to set conditions on who, when, and how individuals receive items
  • Avoid paying estate taxes
  • Avoid possessions staying in probate for months or years

The best way to think of the will or trust decision is not that one is better than the other. Instead, think of them as two different options for planning your estate, each with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. An estate planning attorney in St. Peters, Missouri can tell you more.

Contact the Legacy Law Center for their insight into estate planning and the difference between wills and trusts.

Estate Planning and Joint Ownership

Estate Planning and Joint Ownership

Estate Planning Law Firm in O’Fallon, Missouri

People who make out an estate plan often do so with an eye toward avoiding probate, and with good reason. The probate process can tie up assets indefinitely, requiring inheritors to wait months, and sometimes years, to access their rightful property.

One way of avoiding the probate process is through joint ownership of assets. When two or more people hold an undivided interest in a property, the surviving owners automatically inherit it, bypassing the probate process entirely.

On the surface of it, this seems like an effective way to avoid probate. However, it can lead to unintended consequences that can further complicate the process.

1. Delaying the Inevitable

In the short term, joint ownership avoids probate, but in the long term, all it really does is delay it. Eventually, the last co-owner will die, and the estate will pass into probate anyway.

2. Misplacing Trust

Bank accounts are among the most common types of property that people may own jointly. However, owning a checking or savings account jointly gives every co-owner equal access to the funds. All it would take would be one dishonest account holder to withdraw all the money and disappear, and all the other owners would be down and out. The bank would not be able to do anything about it, and there would be no legal recourse to hold the bank responsible. The law extends protection to financial institutions in situations like that.

3. Dealing With Tax Problems

Joint ownership of stocks or real estate can lead to all sorts of tax headaches related to capital gains, gifting, etc. This is especially true when it comes to real estate.

4. Identifying Owners

Depending on the laws in your state, joint ownership rights can sometimes extend beyond named owners to their spouses. If this is the case, it will be impossible for surviving owners to sell the property (if desired) unless all those with an interest in the property, including spouses of owners, agree.

5. Becoming Incapacitated

Although jointly owned assets automatically go to the others upon one owner’s death, sometimes a co-owner becomes incapacitated. This creates a difficult situation in which ownership rights do not transfer because the person is not dead, but the individual is unable to act in his or her own interest. The solution is for a court to appoint a conservator to act on the behalf of the incapacitated joint owner.

There are many good ways to avoid probate, but joint ownership of property usually isn’t one of them. Contact an estate planning law firm in O’Fallon, Missouri today, and an attorney can explain better options to you.

Call the Legacy Law Center for their insight into estate planning and joint ownership.

Why Creating a Joint Will for Marriage May Not Be a Good Idea

Estate Planning Attorney St. Peters, MO

There is perhaps no other life event that brings the same level bliss that getting married to the love of your life does. During this time, a couple may be making preparations for not only their wedding day, but for their future together too. Married couples may turn to an attorney for advice as to whether a joint will is in both of their best interests. Nowadays, joint wills are rarely used, as there quite a few serious drawbacks.

The Intention of a Joint Will

In general, the intention of a joint will for married couples is to make sure their spouse inherits everything after one of them passes on. Then, if there are shared children, they are to inherit the assets once both parents have become deceased. Spouses who sign a joint will often go into the agreement feeling confident that their current wishes and concerns will be addressed to matter what.

However, an attorney may strongly emphasize to clients that this joint will cannot ever be changed or revoked by one spouse after the other has passed on. It is imperative that both spouses understand exactly what this means for their future.

The Potential Problems

Because joint wills between two spouses are essentially legally binding contracts, they cannot be updated after one partner dies no matter what kind of life circumstances arise. The surviving spouse may encounter several problems with the joint will, particularly if they are blocked from responding in the way they would like to significant life milestones. Spouses who want to do supportive things for their family, may not be able to.

To carry this point further, an attorney can give you some examples of ways that the remaining spouse may start to regret entering a joint will:

  • The surviving spouse cannot give a child their inheritance early, in an effort to help with things like buying a home, having children, starting a business venture, paying off student loans, etc.
  • The surviving spouse cannot assist grandchildren with college-related expenses, such as buying books, paying for tuition, room and board, etc.
  • The surviving spouse who has a child that is irresponsible with money, is not permitted to add restrictions to how the inheritance funds can be used
  • The surviving spouse cannot sell the family home after their husband or wife’s death (which may prevent them from relocating to a smaller home, or having the funds needed to move into an assisted care facility)

Other Options

There are other ways that married couples can see to it that their spouse, children and family are set for life. Spouses do not have to use an irrevocable joint will in order to feel reassured that their wishes are going to be abided by after passing on. An estate planning attorney in St. Peters, MO from the Legacy Law Center can give spouses options depending on what is going to be in their best interest. Please call today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

The Pros and Cons of a Joint Will for Married Couples

Wills Lawyer St. Peters, MO

After a couple gets married, they may talk about the option of drafting a joint will. A joint will is a single document that is signed by both spouses, in which all of their assets shall be left to the other after one passes away. While this may seem like a good idea, an attorney suggests being aware of the potential pros and cons. In general, joint wills typically include statements regarding one spouse inheriting everything after the other passes, and when the second spouse becomes deceased, it gets transferred to the children. While this sounds simple, it can create inconvenient roadblocks down the line.

Con: Joint Wills Cannot Be Revoked

Most joint wills include a provision which states that neither husband or wife can make changes to or revoke the will independently. So essentially, the joint will cannot be updated after the first spouse passes away. By contrast, a conventional will can be changed as years go by. Married couples who are thinking about creating a joint will may want to consider what writing individual wills can do for them instead.

Pro: Children are Locked into Inheritance

A joint will can ensure that both the couple’s desires and preferences are being followed permanently. Many couples feel more reassured knowing that if their spouse were to pass away, they still have a place to live as they shall inherit all the property. Additionally, a joint will solidifies that the children will inherit everything once both parents pass on.

Another potential benefit to a joint will is if one parent passes away and the other remarries, the original children are guaranteed to receive the inheritance and not the new stepparent or kids. An attorney can help you draft a will that ensures your children get the assets you want them to have in the future.a

Con: The Surviving Spouse is Stuck

Life can be unpredictable. Sometimes really terrible things or incredibly amazing events happen, and there may not be ways to prepare for all scenarios. After the first spouse passes, the surviving spouse can be stuck in the sense that he or she cannot make adjustments to the will even under very special circumstances. The surviving spouse may not be permitted to:

  • Help grandchildren by assisting in paying for college expenses
  • Sell or gift away other assets besides money that are listed in the will
  • Add restrictions on the money to be inherited by an adult child who is not financially responsible
  • Gift an adult child a portion of his or her inheritance early for a major life event (buying a house, having a baby, paying off loans, or starting a business)
  • Sell off the family home and move into a smaller space (or assisted living)

As you can see, there are benefits and complications of married couples establishing a joint will together. If you want to know what type of will can be in everyone’s best interest, please consult with a wills lawyer in St. Peters, MO from the Legacy Law Center today.