My name is April Gatlin, and I’m an attorney at Gatlin Voelker.  One important area of the law that touches every person at some time is probate—what happens when you die, or when a loved one dies.  It’s not something that we want to think about, but it’s critical to plan ahead with estate planning.

 

Here are a few common issues that I often see arise during probate: 

 
  • multiple wills 
  • holographic (or handwritten) wills 
  • last-minutes wills and soundness of mind in making a will or changes to a pre-existing will 
  • unclear or inconsistent instructions from decedent 
  • when the decedent is a part of a family-owned or small business 
  • grieving relatives 
  • who actually owns the assets and real estate 
  • debts left by the decedent 
  • taxes 
  • step-children and adopted children 
  • ex-husbands and ex-wives 
  • boyfriends or girlfriends of the decedent 

One example of when a probate can become a long, drawn-out process is when you have to feud family members who don’t get along.  Sometimes it’s because one family member may have been the main caretaker of the decedent, and the decedent had a will where they left that caretaker more than other family members.  The other family members feel like they didn’t get their “fair share” or they feel “left out”. This often leads to a challenge that the decedent was not of sound mind when they made the will, or that they were coaxed into it by the caretaker.   

 

If you have minor children, you need to address what will occur if the unimaginable happens–both parents die.  You need to name a guardian and an alternate guardian for your children. You may want to set up a trust provision to help provide money to the children over time.  You will need to name a trustee, and that should be someone you trust and who is “good with money” so that they can manage the trust.  

 

Everyone needs a will.  If you don’t have one, get one.  If you already have a will, take it out and review it from time to time to make sure that it still reflects your wishes, and that the people named in the roles of executor, guardian, and trustee are still able and willing to have those roles.  Every time you have a significant life-changing event, your will and estate planning should be revisited.

April Gatlin – Estate PLanning Attorney

If you have questions around estate planning, or would like to set up a will, or to simply revisit your existing will to see if it still reflects your final wishes. Please don’t hestiate to contact ApriL Gatlin today to discuss your estate planning and probate needs.

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