The firm counsels clients on all matters pertaining to estate planning and probate. The firm’s goal is to integrate estate planning into the client’s overall personal and business planning, taking into consideration special assets such as closely-held businesses, limited liability companies, partnerships, real estate, life insurance and retirement plan distributions.
Estate planning is an important step that any person can take to ensure that their final property and health care wishes are honored, and that loved ones are provided for in their absence. A comprehensive estate plan can resolve a number of legal questions that arise whenever anyone passes away: What is the state of their financial affairs? What real and personal property do they own? Who gets what? Does a personal guardian need to be appointed to care for minor children? How much tax will need to be paid in order to transfer property ownership? What funeral arrangements are appropriate?
What is an “Estate”?
Your “estate” consists of all property owned by you at the time of your death, including:
- Bank Accounts
- Personal Property (Household furnishings, Automobiles, Jewelry, etc.)
- Real Estate
- Stocks, Bonds and Other Securities
- Life Insurance Policies
Regardless of your age, or the size and complexity of your estate, an estate plan can help you:
- Ensure that your property will be transferred as quickly and with as few legal complications as possible, to family members and other loved ones that you wish to receive your property after your death.
- Minimize the amount of taxes that will need to be paid in order for your property to pass to others after your death.
- Avoid the time and costs associated with the probate process by utilizing estate planning devices like living trusts and “payable on death” bank accounts.
- Establish the kinds of life-prolonging medical care you wish to receive should you be unable to make your wishes known when the time comes.
- Appoint an attorney-in-fact who can act in your place regarding financial matters should you become mentally incapacitated.
While you may prefer not to think about your estate, it is vitally important to you and to your family members that you have an estate plan in place. Contact Capital Justice and make an appointment to discuss your options with a skilled Washington, D.C. estate planning attorney.
Probate is a legal process whereby a court oversees the distribution of assets left by a person who passes away. Assets are anything a person owns with value, such as automobiles, bank accounts, cash, significant household goods and real estate, for instance.
Probate is not always necessary. If a deceased person owned bank accounts or property with another person, the surviving co-owner often will then own that property automatically. If a person dies leaving minimal assets, such as personal belongings or household goods, these items can be distributed among the rightful beneficiaries without the supervision of the probate court.
Sometimes probate is needed to:
- Clear title to land, stocks and bonds, or large bank or savings and loan accounts that were held in the name of the deceased person only, and put the title to these assets in the names of the rightful beneficiaries.
- Collect debts owed to the deceased person.
- Settle a dispute between people who claim they are entitled to assets of the deceased person.
- Resolve any disputes about the validity of the deceased person’s will.
Probate involves a good deal of paperwork that must be filed in a timely manner. To achieve the results you want, probate should be handled with an understanding of the legal principles involved. A probate lawyer can help you avoid the many possible tax traps and other problems that could arise. Also, a lawyer can help you prepare and file the legal documents and prepare you for hearings in court.