Whittier Will Lawyer
The longest and most intense probate court battles usually involve intestate (no will) estates. Examples include the Jimi Hendrix estate, which has dragged on for over fifty years, and the Prince estate, which looks like it might last almost as long. Usually, probate litigants fight about capacity and distribution issues. Even a basic will usually completely addresses these issues. So, there’s no need for expensive and protected probate litigation that no one really wants.
The diligent Whittier will lawyers at The Probate Guy pay close attention to the details in these situations. These details are often the difference between wills which cruise through the probate process and wills which are contested in court. We pride ourselves in crafting estate planning documents which are tailored to meet your needs and also legally enforceable.
Making a Will
It’s important to include certain clauses in a will, and equally as important to exclude others. Some examples include:
- Minor Trust: Typically, minors cannot inherit property. So, if the testator (person making a will) has children under 18, a minor trust is a must have. These testamentary trusts do not have the same benefits as some other kinds of trusts. But they do make the probate process much easier.
- Guardianship: Minor children also need guardians. For young families, this provision might be the most important one in a will. Even if there are no other assets, guardianship protection, in and of itself, is a good reason to make a will. These provisions usually prevent your children from becoming wards of the state.
- Creditor Payment: This is one provision your will does not need. Yet boilerplate internet wills often include it. If not worded carefully, such a clause could require an independent executor to pay claims which a judge would otherwise disallow.
- In Terrorem Clauses: These clauses, which state that parties who challenge wills lose all inheritance rights, give many testators a false sense of security. These clauses are usually unenforceable. Additionally, most people challenge wills because they were written out of them, so the clause has no effect.
In terms of estate distribution, unless the testator makes a specific bequest, all pure biological children get equal estate shares. Step-children, or any other step-relatives, get nothing. Often, that’s not the intended result. So, our Whittier will lawyers include appropriate language.
Probating a Will
“Probate” simply means the legal process of transforming a will into a legal document. The vast majority of probate proceedings are uncontested and relatively straightforward.
After the executor files an application, the judge appoints the named executor to that position. Most wills include no-bond provisions. If such a provision is absent, the judge could require the executor to post a very large surety bond.
Usually, debts must be paid first. Creditors usually have thirty days to file claims against the estate. An attorney can usually negotiate with creditors and convince them to either lower or withdraw their claims. These debts include estate taxes. Then, the executor distributes assets in accordance with the will, assuming these assets weren’t sold to pay debts.
Finally, the executor files a report with the court detailing all these transactions. From start to finish, the probate process usually takes a few months, unless the estate is large and complex.
Reach Out to a Hard-Working Orange County Lawyer
Wills and probate are normally rather straightforward. For a free consultation with an experienced Whittier will lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Robert L. Cohen. Convenient payment plans are available.