By Leon Kelly
Owning property, whether real, intellectual, or personal, is a human right. As a matter of record, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states that no person should “be deprived of … property, without due process.” However, the owners of any of the aforementioned property that makes up one’s estate can lose that property if they do not make the necessary provisions (i.e., wills, trusts, and estate planning). Protecting one’s property and making provisions for keeping that property in the “right” hands, is a part of estate planning.
Handling an estate could be complicated. The more assets one owns, the more tedious the planning process could become. There may be real (land and homes) property, intellectual (patents, copyrights, and trademarks) property, and personal (any movable asset) property in the tune of millions of dollars. Working with an attorney who is well-versed on estate matters will make a world of difference, helping to navigate the sometimes choppy waters of estate planning. The attorney knows the ins and outs of how to protect one’s assets and keep those assets out of probate, i.e., from having to be settled in court.
The testator or testatrix should have some understanding of how the state laws work concerning estate planning. Doing some research into how the law works regarding taxes, dependents, spouses, medical care, and executors is paramount. Researching the law will prepare the testator to ask pertinent questions, thereby helping him to make the most informed decisions when drawing out the will. Knowledge of the laws will make for more effective planning.
One final step in effective estate planning involves the assigning of an executor. It is not “the” final step but simply a very important one. The executor should be one who is also trustworthy, responsible, and who can understand what his duties as an executor are. From the beginning, the exact duties of the chosen executor should be laid out in clear and concise terms. A decision should be made as to whether or not there will also be a co-executor. The testator would want to be confident that the executor will honor all his wishes to the best of the executor’s ability.
Effective planning involves more than just drawing up a will. It is important to find a competent attorney, to know what laws apply when leaving a will, and to put the right person in the position of executor. These are some of the things that will help avoid problems.
Leon Kelly is a student in the Chamber Coalition Paralegal Certificate Program. For details about this program, please visit www.freeparalegal.org
If you need advice relating to this particular wills, estates & trusts issue or any other legal matter, please call 855-768-8845 or visit www.askthelawyer.us to schedule a free case evaluation. Remember, the lawyer you hire does make a difference!