Ensuring that your assets are protected and will be passed on to your loved ones is a crucial accomplishment that can give you tremendous peace of mind. At New Beginnings Family Law, our experienced Huntsville estate planning lawyers are committed to helping clients achieve this goal.
The Huntsville estate planning attorneys at New Beginnings Family Law have extensive legal experience and deep roots in North Alabama. Our skilled and compassionate lawyers treat all our clients as if they were family. We offer estate planning solutions tailored to your specific needs and are proud to deliver quality legal services.
You can rely on New Beginnings Family Law to provide honest and transparent advice as we work hard to develop an estate plan that fits all your needs. We are always accessible and ready to answer your questions throughout the process.
To schedule a confidential consultation with our Huntsville estate planning lawyers, call us today or contact us online.
In Alabama, as in other states, the will is the document used to distribute your assets to your intended heirs and beneficiaries when you die. Under Alabama law, anyone 18 years old or older who is of sound mind may make a will. For a will to be valid, it must be in writing and signed by the testator or by another individual chosen by the testator. The will has to be signed by at least two people who witnessed the signing.
Many people in Alabama choose to use a revocable living trust instead of a will. This can avoid or minimize probate and make decisions that benefit them tax-wise regarding their estate planning. Probate is the process of giving effect to a will, paying the debts and taxes of the estate, and distributing property according to the will’s terms. Probate, which is court-supervised, can be expensive and time-consuming.
If you are using trusts, there are still several reasons to consider including a will in your estate plan. For example, a will can be used to appoint a guardian over your minor children. A will may have provisions for how to handle any remaining property that was not covered in the trust. For example, your will can contain a provision that will direct such property into a pre-existing trust. Whether to use a will, trust, or a combination should be discussed with your lawyer as part of your estate plan.
While you do not have to hire a lawyer to prepare an estate plan, consulting with the Huntsville estate planning attorneys at New Beginnings Family Law can remove the guesswork and streamline the process so that you accomplish all of your goals. We are prepared to guide you through the entire estate planning process and ensure your wishes are secure.
If a person dies without a will in Alabama, state law will control how the deceased person’s estate will be divided and distributed. The court will appoint an administrator to manage your estate during the probate process. If you create a will, you name the person that you wish to manage your estate.
Dying before making a will is common since many do not take the time to take care of estate planning. In Alabama, the assets of anyone who dies without a will are divided among their immediate family according to rule set out in state law.
You may one day not be able to make important financial decisions for yourself. That’s when a power of attorney can come into play. A power of attorney grants legal authority for another person to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
You can choose for this to begin immediately, on a specific date, or if and when you become incapacitated. Power of attorney powers generally terminate upon your death, unless you had a specific date set.Use the power of attorney if:
In Alabama, you may designate the power of attorney as “general,” which grants broad powers to handle your legal, financial, and health matters, among other issues, or “special,” which grants power for only particular situations.
Cover the basics. Your estate plan should take into consideration what happens when you die or if you become disabled. Your plan needs to detail what you want to happen with your property upon your death, taking into consideration your family’s livelihood, the extent to which probate can be avoided, and how to minimize estate taxes. These goals can be accomplished by properly setting up ownership of assets, designating beneficiaries, and completing estate planning forms, among other things.
Plan your asset ownership. Any asset that has title documents can be set up to where, upon your death, the title automatically passes to a co-owner.
Identify the people you want to provide for. Think about all your loved ones you want to provide for and protect if something were to happen to you, such as:
Decide if you would like to make charitable donations. If you want charitable giving to be a part of your legacy, think about the organizations you support and consider whether you’d like to donate money or property to them.
Determine whether your potential beneficiaries have special needs. In some circumstances, beneficiaries or heirs may have specific needs that need to be addressed. Examples include:
At New Beginnings Family Law, our experienced Huntsville estate planning lawyers can assist you with all aspects of your estate plan, including:
Have you been putting off your estate planning? You may be procrastinating in part because you are unsure of how to get started. The tips below will put you on the right track.
Organize your finances. Make a personal balance sheet with a list of your assets, their market values, and any debts against them. Include the net values and how they are titled. Collect the actual deeds and statements so your lawyer can look at them. Your lawyer will only be able to plan with the information you provide, so it’s critical that you are thorough and include everything.
List all the people you want to inherit from you. This may include your spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings, or a partner you are not married to. Include their full names, dates of birth, current addresses, and how they are related to you.
Consider who you want to be your executor or trustee. The individual you name to take on this responsibility should be someone you respect and trust. You should have confidence in their judgment and that they will honor your requests. If you don’t feel you have strong candidates for an executor or trustee, you may want to consider a professional.
Consider who you would like to make health care decisions for you. If you become unable to care for yourself and if you have specific instructions about your care or a particular facility (hospital, assisted living facility, nursing home), the person you designate can see that your specifications are followed.
Hire an attorney. An experienced estate planning lawyer has the knowledge and skills necessary to draft documents and will understand how to make your estate plan work for you, exactly how you want it to. The attorneys at New Beginnings Family Law know the legal requirements in Alabama. Laws vary from state to state, and a do-it-yourself program may not tell you everything you need to know. A simple mistake can have far-reaching complications that will only come to light after you have passed.
If you live in the Huntsville area and have a question about an estate plan, call New Beginnings Family Law today. We will be happy to walk you through these complex issues and put your mind at ease.
Call now to schedule a confidential consultation with our experienced and compassionate Alabama estate planning attorneys.
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