There are many misunderstandings about a last will and testament and the probate process. Some come from television, while other people just make assumptions about how it works. No matter where the incorrect information comes from, it can cause those you leave behind headaches. When you work with a law firm who handles trusts, wills and estates and is a probate attorney, your family will have much less stress during an already difficult time.
1. Video and Handwritten Wills are Not Valid
TV and movies make these seem like an option for your will, but they’re not. In fact, you can’t even have a joint will in the state of Florida. However, if you or someone wants to use video to contest the validity of a will due to someone’s mental incapacity at the time of execution, that may be submitted as evidence. Without a valid will, the probate process becomes significantly more complicated.
2. Not Everything You Own Goes through Probate
Although the bulk of your belongings, including your household goods are part of your estate, not everything goes through the probate process automatically. Any property jointly owned passes directly to the survivor. If you and your family have established a trust, assets named in the trust are not part of the estate. Lastly, life insurance policies and retirement accounts have their own beneficiaries and are paid out to the named party or parties.
3. It’s Not Just a Reading of the Will
In fact, the probate process is just that, a process. There are multiple deadlines and if you’re the executor, you have lots of responsibilities. That’s one of the main reasons people hire a probate attorney. Your probate attorney can help you through the process from notifying beneficiaries to filing the probate inventory. Plus, if someone contests the will, they are there to act as the intermediary.
4. A Trust is Only for the Very Rich
Because a trust is often set up to manage an estate, people think that it’s only for someone with big assets. However, if you have even moderate assets and want to avoid estate taxes, you should talk to an estate attorney about setting up a trust. There are many types with different purposes including a trust to pay a child or grandchild’s college tuition or to donate directly to a specific charity.
If you’re looking for an estate attorney to help you plan the disposition of your assets or are in need of assistance as the executor of an estate, call Wagstaff Law Offices. We’re well versed as estate and probate attorneys and will help you with your needs. We can be reached at (727) 584-8182 and will help you through the estate planning or probate process in a timely manner.