Estate Planning Lawyer: Tips to Avoid Inheritance Problems

Working with an estate planning lawyer can ensure inheritance assets are given to rightful heirs and avoid the potential for contesting a will. It is important to work with an estate planning law firm that understands your needs and offers strategies to protect inheritance property from undergoing probate.

In June 2008, a friend of mine hired an estate planning lawyer to execute a last will and testament for her terminally-ill mother. The estate planner was referred through her mother’s financial institution.

The family dynamics were hostile and the mother wanted to disinherit one her adult children. My friend was unable to consult with other estate planning attorneys due to her mother’s declining health. Instead, she was forced to work with a lawyer who did not know anything about her mother or their family dynamics.

Two days after her mother passed away, my friend discovered the bank had closed their estate planning division due to budget cuts. Needless to say, this created substantial turmoil for my friend who had been appointed as the estate executor.

To make matters worse, my friend resided in a different state than her mother. She met with a replacement estate lawyer just days before having to return home. During their consultation she realized he had no interest in helping with her mother’s estate. He offered no condolences, expressed no interest in the disinherited heir, and provided little advice on how to protect inheritance assets should her sibling contest the will.

In the end, my friend settled the estate without legal representation. Fortunately, the estate was relatively small and she had taken measures to keep most of the inheritance property out of probate. Most people are not able to settle estates on their own, nor is it advised.

This story illustrates how things can go terribly wrong when an incompatible estate planning lawyer is involved. Multiple complications can occur when estate planning is handled in the last weeks of a person’s life.

This is particularly important when family discord exists. If wills are executed during the final weeks, heirs can easily contest a will by claiming the decedent was not of sound mind or under the influence of another. Contesting a will can suspend probate for months and incur additional legal fees which are paid by the estate.

Executing a last will and establishing estate planning while you are in good health is one of the best things you can do for yourself and family. Hiring an appropriate wills lawyer ensures your directives will be followed in the event of death. It also reduces stress for your designated probate personal representative or trustee.

Interview a minimum of three or four estate planning lawyers.  Ask for referrals and contact them to determine how well the attorneys performed. Ask friends and relatives for wills and trust lawyer referrals. Estate attorneys can also be located in local telephone directories or through the American Bar Association.

Source by Simon Volkov

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