One of the things several people do not know about estate planning is how important it is. The advantages of estate planning include eliminating uncertainties over administering probate, maximizing estate value through reducing taxes and other expenses, and the likelihood of a legal challenge to the estate. The two components of an estate plan that receive the most attention are a will and a trust.
Having a will before death allows you to choose who will inherit your property after you are gone. You can appoint a guardian for your minor children and name your executor, who will be the person you want to handle your affairs and supervise the probate procedure. A will does not become a legally binding document until after death.
When you establish a trust, you give it ownership of your assets and any real estate you possess. When you pass away, the trustee is responsible for distributing your assets following your instructions. The estate planning process can be complex, but an elder law lawfirm can guide you through the decisions to make and the tax ramifications of managing and settling your estate.
While no specific laws can be cited here, it is safe to say that many laws exist regarding family. During a divorce, the two spouses may battle over child custody, among other things, and this can be a serious point of contention. Any parent would be greatly invested in having custody of his or her child, and for that reason, divorcing parents often turn to child custody lawyers and attorneys to represent their case in child custody court. But what sort of custody issues might a parent face, and how can they use their custody lawyers and their own arguments to convince a court that they are right for child custody? On a different note, how might someone get a professional will written to guard their estate upon their passing, such as bequeathing money or property to their children or grandchildren? This, too, may require some legal help, but it can be done.
Divorce and Child Custody
Major divorce cases will probably call for legal aid, such as divorce lawyers and child custody attorneys, and a court of law will be involved.
A spouse may look up local divorce law firms, hire an attorney who is to their liking, and file divorce papers. This may prompt the other spouse to hire their own legal help, and something similar may be done to settle child custody rights as well. For any child under age 18 in the household, custody is up for debate, and the parents will operate through their child custody lawyers to try and win custody. Nothing can be guaranteed here, but a parent may be more likely to win custody if they can demonstrate a reliable source of income and if they have not demonstrated any abusive behavior of any kind. It may also be mentioned that if a child is aged 12 or over, then he or she may speak privately with the judge about their preferences on where they live (and with whom) as the household splits up.
But a child custody attorney is not the only professional whom a divorcing parent may turn to during this time. Child custody counselors and assessors may act as neutral third parties who can expertly (and objectively) determine which parent is more suitable for winning custody of a particular child. A parent may meet with such a counselor and do everything they can to make their case, but they should bear in mind that while a good counselor will be thorough and fair, they are not anyone’s friend in particular. They will do their job, no more or less.
A parent may make their case by demonstrating their income and show that they can financially support a child, and have a safe place to live. What is more, that parent may provide medical records and school records to the counselor, and the parent may ask the counselor about anything else they need to know. And at least once, if not more often, the counselor may visit each parent’s household and see what sort of environment they are creating for the child, in terms of quality interpersonal time, feeding, and more. A counselor may be impressed if the parent treats the child well and takes an active role in their development, as opposed to piling up TV dinners for the child to eat or just having the child watch TV for hours on end.
Writing a Will
An older adult is urged to write a legally binding will, so that their estate will be handled according to their wishes after their passing. Many Americans do not have a will at all, and this can be a real problem. Should someone pass on without a will, creditors may claim anything or even everything in the estate, and leave little to nothing for family members. This may be especially true if the person ran their own business.
So, a client may hire an estate planning lawyer to write a clearly worded and legally binding will, and assign their assets as desired. Assets may include money and bank accounts, a car, a house, jewelry or family heirlooms, or even recreational vehicles and a privately owned business. Children under age 18 may have an adult assigned to guard their share of the estate until their majority.