Estate Lawyer Phoenix, AZ
If you are considering making a trust, you may want to speak to an estate lawyer in Phoenix, AZ at Kamper & Estrada, PLLC. We have helped many people create living trusts and are ready to assist you. A skilled lawyer may simplify the process and help you create a living trust that is free of errors.
What is a Living Trust?
A living trust also referred to as a revocable trust, holds your assets until your death. Upon your passing, the assets in the trust are then transferred to your chosen beneficiaries. Unlike a will, a living trust does not have to go through a probate process. This means your heirs may receive their inheritances in weeks instead of months or years.
What Are the Benefits of a Living Trust?
Creating a living trust with the help of our team can have several benefits. Let’s take a closer look at some of them:
- Save Money: While a lawyer may charge more to draft a living trust than to draft a will, it may save more money in the long run. When it is time to distribute your assets, they will not have to go through a probate process, so there are fewer court costs.
- More Privacy: If you are a private person, you may prefer a living trust over a will. A will is considered a public record, so anyone may see it after you pass. With a living trust, your estate is distributed in private upon your death.
- Trustee Can Jump In: A living trust is set up in a way that your trustee can automatically take things over if you become ill or incapacitated. For example, if you develop an illness and you are not in the right frame of mind to deal with your trust, your trustee can take care of everything for you.
The Basics of Estate Administration
When a person dies, their estate will be probated unless they have a trust. Probate is a process that is overseen by the court and whereby the decedent’s property (the person who died) is transferred to the named beneficiaries. Over the years, the probate process has been made easier; however, it does come with its own unique set of challenges making it useful to retain an estate lawyer in Phoenix at Kamper & Estrada, PLLC.
In most cases, an estate will be probated after a person’s death. The process will begin with the will and death certificate being submitted to the probate court. A judge will need to validate the will and name a personal representative. This person has the duty to oversee the estate management and will be required to report to the court at certain points during the proceeding.
A personal representative can be an executor or an administrator. If a will was left, the executor will be the person who was nominated by the decedent; whereas, if there was no will and the estate is considered to be left in intestate, the decedent’s family or a judge may nominate a person who is considered to be the administrator. It is also possible for a lawyer, financial institution, or trust company to act in this capacity. Anyone who is serving in either of these roles must be approved and appointed by the probate court. Some of their legal court duties will include:
- File the will within a period of time after the decedent’s death; typically within 30 days
- Publish any mandatory legal notices
- File with the court periodic and final accountings
In addition to these duties, a personal representative of a will or estate will need to:
- Collect all assets
- Inventory all assets
- Valuate all assets
- File any remaining tax returns
- Pay state and federal taxes
- Preserve the assets during the probate process
- Identify credit card debts or other debts and notify the collecting agencies
- Sell any necessary assets to pay off debts and estate dues
- Assist beneficiaries in collecting on life insurance policies
- Arrange for the transfer of bank accounts, investments, and so forth
- Distribute the remaining estate to the beneficiaries
Are You Looking for an Estate Lawyer?
Whether you are planning your estate, preparing to file an estate with the probate court, or have a dispute related matter, you should not proceed without professional assistance from our legal team. Failure to do so could result in unnecessary financial losses, as well as, lost time. With the right lawyer on your side, you can feel peace of mind in knowing that your estate needs will be looked after in a way that benefits you, the estate, and any beneficiaries involved.
Very few people understand the fiduciary duties that are associated with estate administration. For this, we at Kamper & Estrada, PLLC urge you to consult a Phoenix, AZ estate lawyer today. We would be happy to discuss your questions and concerns and help you to make a sound decision on how best to proceed with your unique situation.
Why Should I Write an Estate Plan?
While the thought of preparing for your demise is a bit morbid, it is an essential part of life that ensures both your legacy and even your family well-being. Anyone can think of reasons to postpone creating an estate plan, but there are at least ten reasons to stop procrastinating and get it done.
- Dying: While depressing and possibly anxiety-inducing, death is the number one reason to write your estate plan now. You never know when your time will come, so take care of the essentials before then.
- Children: If you are a parent, then you owe it to your children to create your estate plan. You need to designate guardianship and determine if you are going to set up some form of trust for them.
- Loss of Capacity: As with death, you never know when some event will leave you unable to act on your own behalf. Therefore, a crucial part of estate planning is determining and assigning power of attorney over your estate and your decisions, medical and financial.
- Step-Children: Do you have any step-children? If so, you want to make sure that they are treated fairly when your assets are distributed. Therefore, talk with an attorney and decide how best to include them in your estate plan. If you don’t, you risk them being cut out altogether.
- Maintaining Family Ownership: Unfortunately, there are instances where a divorce after inheritance leads to loss of family assets. If you wish for specific assets to remain in your family, then establish a trust through your estate to protect those items.
- Providing for Your Spouse: Estate planning also encompasses life insurance, which can help your spouse and immediate family maintain a standard of living. However, without the income replacement of life insurance, your family may have to adapt to some harsh realities.
- Special Needs Children: If you have a child with special needs, then they likely receive benefits through social security or Medicaid. However, those benefits are not guaranteed after you pass. Setting up a trust through your estate can protect those benefits even when you’re gone.
- Retirement Beneficiaries: Estate plans also help you create and choose beneficiaries to receive funds from accounts like IRAs. However, without proper planning, your loved ones may be subject to tax consequences.
- Business Stake: If you own a business, name a successor in your estate plan. If you don’t, you risk your family losing control.
- Probate: The most significant reason to make a plan is to avoid probate. Probate is a lengthy and costly process that may burden your family.
How Can I Prevent a Dispute from Happening?
Most people know of at least one horror story involving a family being broken apart over an estate dispute. Children fighting with a stepparent over a property, siblings disputing about who gets the heirloom painting. If left unattended to, disputes like these, and others, can cause significant legal issues. While most families don’t ever get into an argument over an estate, it is certainly possible. As an estate lawyer in Phoenix, AZ might tell you, money and assets can bring out a new side to someone.
If you are drafting an estate plan, a lawyer will likely go over the possibility of a dispute. If you, or your lawyer, believes it is a potential, prevention steps may be taken.
How Can I Prevent a Possible Estate Dispute?
Carefully Choose the Executor
Many parents will choose the eldest child to be the executor of an estate. This might happen even when they are not necessarily the best choice. The executor you choose should be responsible and reliable. They must also be honest, well organized, and possess good communication skills. It is also important that they are of a sound mind. Before you decide on the executor of your estate, be sure each of these character traits is considered.
Try to Think About Every Potential
When it comes to estate management, surprises can happen, and when they do, there is a greater risk for a dispute to happen. As you create your plan, be sure to think about all possibilities. For example, is your daughter getting less money than your son because you are passing on your house to her? Or, does your grandchild get to choose one special item of their choice? Perhaps you want your son to get the family painting. These are things that you should specify in your estate plan so as to avoid hurt, anger, or disappointment.
It is not a bad idea to talk about your wishes with your family in advance. You might get some unwanted criticism, but this is to be expected. Don’t let the opinions of another person alter the way you feel about the estate. If you encounter challenges, talk with your Phoenix, AZ estate lawyer.
Work With a Trusted Lawyer
It is very important that you choose to work with an estate planning lawyer. At the minimum, schedule a consultation for advice. By having a lawyer to draft the documents, you can feel peace of mind in knowing everything has been correctly documented.
Additional Tips to Consider
If you have concerns about a dispute arising, you should also consider:
- Speaking with an estate planning lawyer alone, and without any family members or friends
- Be sure to keep your estate plan up to date
- Think about placing your assets into a trust
- Avoid adding a co-owner to property or account if you do not intend to leave it to them
- Talk with loved ones about sentimental items
Hiring an Estate Lawyer
If you are planning on creating a living trust, an AZ estate lawyer in Phoenix can help you in a number of different ways. Here are some of the things our legal team can do for you:
- Reduce estate taxes
- Plan for incapacity
- Make a plan for what will happen to your estate upon your death
- Set up trusts for family members
- Manage ongoing trusts
All estate lawyers are different and may not have the same type of experience. Some might have more experience creating wills while others are more experienced with trusts. It may be in your best interest to work with our team who has specific experience with creating trusts. At Kamper & Estrada, PLLC, our dedicated lawyers have many years of experience with living trusts. We work hard to make sure our clients are satisfied.
If you are looking for a Phoenix estate lawyer, contact Kamper & Estrada, PLLC at 602-730-7988.
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