South Portland ME Probate Lawyers
Looking at the various estate planning options suitable for you is an essential thing to do, especially at this time. While the value of creating a will only manifests after death, it is something that you must be concerned about at present.
The term estate administration broadly pertains to the judicial proceedings of transferring assets to surviving heirs, but this is rarely simple. Wills and probate issues must never be taken lightly. Wills can be contested, and that is the last thing a decedent would want.
Whether you are facing legal issues after the death of a loved one, or are drafting a will for yourself, it is important to follow the legal process outlined in relevant state law. As such, it is highly recommended to seek legal help from professionalSouth Portland estate planning lawyers.
Our law office in Maine can assist in creating legal documents that facilitate a less stressful administration of an estate. It may involve some of the most important decisions you will make in your life, so make sure an experienced legal team assists you.
The Basic Definition of an Estate
Very broadly, inheritance refers to the passing of wealth from an individual to the succeeding generations. This transfer of cash, contents of a bank account, personal property, real property, and other assets account for a significant proportion of wealth throughout the United States.
An estate, meanwhile, is a related term that refers to everything that comprises the net worth of an individual. An estate can include
- monetary assets
- personal possessions
- financial securities
- real estate
- any assets owned by the owner of such an estate.
An estate often pertains to the economic valuation of an individual’s assets, investments, and interests for legal purposes. While real estate and other physical assets are typical examples, legally, the term may also include personal belongings, collectibles, art collections, and antique items or furnishings. Financially, estates refer to one’s net worth. In a way, it relates to the total of the above assets, minus liabilities to creditors and other entities.
If you have any questions related to this, consult with our South Portland ME probate attorneys. While we concentrate primarily on estate planning, elder law, and special needs planning, our Maine estate planning attorneys are called upon to counsel our clients on a wide range of legal matters.
An Overview of the Probate Process in Maine
The term probate is the process of resolving the estate of the deceased and ensuring that any debts are paid and inheritances are properly passed along to beneficiaries. In Maine, a key player in the probate procedure is the executor or personal representative, who will be responsible for organizing, distributing and resolving the estate.
The proposed personal representative will be required to give a basic testimony at the probate hearing that will aid the court in deciding whether it should approve the estate. Once the petition to probate the estate has been permitted, the court will issue Letters Testamentary that appoints the personal representative to the estate and allows him or her to carry out the necessary duties.
The responsibilities of the personal representative often include:
- Protecting, collecting, inventorying, and appraising all assets
- Paying liabilities of the deceased or the estate
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries, either according to a will or intestacy laws
- Closing all estate proceedings
In cases where there is a will, much of the probate process can be conducted in accordance with testate law. Here, the personal representative is chosen by the deceased (in contrast to being appointed by the court).
Even in these cases, however, there are often considerations that the will might not be able to address. There are estate tax obligations to handle and expenses to manage. Without careful navigation, a personal representative can violate a will’s provisions, state law, or any one of their responsibilities to manage and close the estate. This is why it is crucial to seek legal advice from someone experienced with probate issues.
The Value of Working on an Estate Plan Early OnCreating a will is especially useful in managing estate assets and determining which heir shall inherit what when you pass away. Before drafting a will, it is necessary to look into the types of assets you wish to distribute to loved ones after death. In particular, individuals drafting a will must be realistic and practical when distributing estate assets and personal property. Dying intestate can be very problematic for those that you will be leaving behind. When a person dies without a will, state laws governing the distribution of estates will take over, which may significantly differ from what you would have wanted. Estate challenges and disputes are usually messy. Similarly, a will that clearly outlines your wishes for property distribution can reduce family disagreements during a very emotionally stressful and challenging period. As such, you must seek legal advice and supervision and decide as soon as possible. Make a will or trust (or both) that will meet your needs. Whether you are a personal representative, executor, trustee, or a fiduciary such as an agent or an attorney-in-fact, you need good legal advice. At Jackson & MacNichol, we can counsel you on the administration of an estate, or step into the administering role ourselves.
Creating a Will in South Portland, Maine
Life can bring unexpected events, which is a primary reason why it is necessary to protect your family’s future. With the right estate planning tool, you can proactively anticipate possible issues and scenarios, address them before they occur, and minimize the frustration and emotional distress that comes with losing a family member.
When writing a will, you usually distribute your real and personal property to your would-be surviving spouse, child, or even grandchild. Consequently, a testator would often appoint their would-be surviving spouse, child, or grandchild as estate executor. Some people who want to create a will, however, have unusual preferences and circumstances.
Basically, the executor of a will is tasked to carry out the wishes of the decedent. Depending on the actual circumstances, you may also appoint a non-family member (a loved one, a trusted staff member, a business partner, or an estate planning attorney).
Simply filling out a last will and testament form can be an ideal option if you have a straightforward estate plan in mind. This can also be an open option for those with very small estates, although it is still important to remember that the legal forms and guidelines involved may vary from state to state.
When naming heirs, it is also important to keep in mind that whoever is listed as a beneficiary on a life insurance or bank account matches the contents of this estate planning document. Doing so will help family members of the deceased person avoid legal problems, such as probate challenges and disputes.
Things to Consider When Working on Your Estate Plan
When executing a will, you must do everything pursuant to estate planning laws. Not seeking the necessary help and supervision may lead to certain mistakes, which in turn would lead to future problems.
Before you create a will and decide on heirs you want to appoint, make sure to get in touch with competent and compassionate estate planning lawyers in Maine. Getting the legal services of a good local attorney will also ensure that wills and trusts comply with all relevant estate laws.
Getting a reliable estate planning attorney is necessary for various reasons. When drafting and setting up a last will and testament, you must follow a certain legal procedure. Anything that is not pursuant to probate law could lead to challenges or disputes. There are various grounds for contesting a will, and you should keep these in mind as you prepare yours.
Always remember that last wills and testaments are legal documents. As with any legal document, you must ensure that they are pursuant to relevant statutes and guidelines.
Why It is Generally Advised to Avoid Probate Proceedings
Loss of privacy is a primary reason for avoiding probate. Since any estate planning document related to property transfer will be brought to court, assets and intended beneficiaries become part of public information.
Given the nature and volume of probate matter brought to court, the actual proceeding could take a lengthy period of time. In Maine, most estates are settled in about 9 to 18 months. However, the actual duration of probate can vary depending on several factors, such as the value and complexity of the estate and the existence of a will. This could also lead to unnecessary probate fees.
If the estate of a deceased is part of a probate case, you must fill out several court forms with legal supervision. Preparing numerous probate forms that you must file can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Additionally, as a supposed heir, distributing the estate assets of the deceased is not something that you would want to be done by someone else.
While the estate executor will likely be a family member, there are instances when the appointed executor is not. In such a case, executors could be entitled to receive fees on top of appraisal and court fees that they must pay.
With these in mind, it is best to consult with a local attorney to ensure that your actions will not lead to unwanted complications. A dedicated Maine estate planning attorney knowledgeable with probate laws can explain these in more detail. Send us a message or call us today.
Seek Supervision and Legal Help from Trusted Professionals
There are many reasons why you should get legal advice from someone well-versed with wills and estates law before proceeding. Some people commit the mistake of drafting wills on their own. Experienced estate planning lawyers can attest how often this has resulted in a lot of unnecessary stress to your loved ones when you die.
Additionally, many people are unaware that a last will and testament is not the only way to distribute one’s assets. A credible probate lawyer in South Portland, Maine can answer your questions on setting up a trust, probate administration, administering the estate, letters testamentary, intestacy, or other estate planning documents.
In itself, the circumstance can be stressful when someone dies. You will need an attorney from a trusted law office to make sure that the process of dealing with legal matters is simplified. Trying to understand probate forms and the court system can be overwhelming and time-consuming.
For most estates there is very little contact with the probate court and no contact with the probate judge. The jurisdiction of Maine’s Probate Courts, however, is very broad and these courts are often asked to determine the outcomes of more difficult estate and trust administrations.
Contact our South Portland ME Probate Law Office Today!
Before proceeding to set-up a will and write down your wishes when you die, it is highly recommended first to get legal help from a trusted law office. Likewise, if you are planning to write a will but can foresee that an heir or a beneficiary will likely be contesting it when you die, it is highly recommended to seek legal advice early on.
If you have questions on living wills, living trusts, succession, or power of attorney, give our law office a call. Whether you are looking for ways to reduce estate taxes, make a will, or establish a trust, our Maine estate planning lawyers can help. Our probate lawyers in South Portland can clearly and comprehensively explain to you estate planning laws and statutes in the state of Maine.
Call Jackson & MacNichol at 207-360-8732 and consult with a trusted South Portland estate planning attorney to assist you and answer any legal questions related to probate challenges and disputes.
Our South Portland estate planning law firm specializes in estate administration and planning. If you have any questions on the legal process of preparing a will, don’t hesitate to consult with us. Not all estates require legal representation, but you may find it helpful to at least consult with an attorney. We can handle all aspects of the estate from locating assets to preparing final accountings and tax filings.
Still have questions about Probate in Maine? Talk to one of our estate planning attorneys today!
At Jackson & MacNichol, we understand that estate planning & probate proceedings can be a complicated and emotional process that quite literally will define your family’s future. That’s why we strive to focus on our individual clients’ needs, and are prepared to assist with every aspect of planning or settling an estate. We are always just one phone call away. For a free consultation about the estate planning process, call us today at 555-555-5555.