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You May Need an Attorney and Not Even Know It

People take legal matters into their own hands every day, and sometimes they lose money and property in the process. You can make a legally binding contract without using an attorney, but you are risking missing some big legal loopholes and laws you may not be familiar with that can not only make your contract invalid but can actually cost you in the end. When you are selling or purchasing real estate, tackling the creation of a will or even just loaning money to a friend, a consultation with an attorney can be a positive step. I'll show you when and why you need an attorney.



You May Need an Attorney and Not Even Know It

Using a Will to Divide Estate Property

by Barry Butler

Many people believe that they can use a will to create a complete estate plan. However, there is much more to it than that. To find out more about what should go into choosing a beneficiary, read on.

Per Stirpes Clauses

The above term is a way of leaving an entire estate to a single person or several named people. With per stirpes provisions, individual items of property are not singled out in the will. The will might state that all probated estate property is to be divided equally between all natural-born children of the deceased (if the current spouse has preceded the deceased in death). That can mean all vehicles, real estate, bank accounts, and more are to be valued and then split as many ways as needed to cover all living children. If a child should be deceased, then their share of the estate passes to the deceased's children. If the child of the deceased has no children, their share is equally divided between the other children. The laws of succession would then take over to direct any other inheritances if no living children are found.

Naming Estate Assets Individually

You may decide to make an inventory of your estate and assign each item to a particular beneficiary. You can also name charities and other organizations to be the beneficiary of any part of an estate. You cannot, however, have a mixture of methods of naming beneficiaries – you must use either per stirpes or named beneficiaries. As with all types of estate planning, frequently updating your plans is important. In certain cases, property can become unavailable through loss or damage.

Special Protections for Spouses

While probate laws vary from state to state, all of them have special rules when it comes to the spouses of the deceased. In most cases, a legal and current spouse may not be left out of a will no matter what. The presence of a will or the lack of a will notwithstanding, probate laws may provide as much as one-third of an estate to a legal spouse even if no mention of them is made in the will.

Begin creating your will by making a list of all major property items and then meeting with an estate lawyer to determine the most efficient way to leave your legacy in an efficient and legal manner. If you already have a will, review it every year to ensure it still meets your needs.

To learn more, contact an estate planning attorney.