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Probate

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Not All Estates Must Go Through Probate

Upon the passing of a loved one, there is a good chance that their estate will go through the probate process. Probate involves many things, but generally refers to the process of distributing assets of the deceased to the heirs. While often necessary, probate can be time consuming and complicated.


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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Choosing an Executor

The primary responsibilities of an executor are to manage the property of an estate, pay outstanding debts and taxes of the estate, and distribute the remaining estate assets to the beneficiaries. This is a simplified explanation of the role of an executor. In reality, it can be extremely detailed and complex while extremely important to properly carry out all duties. -


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Monday, June 18, 2018

Contesting the Validity of a Will

If someone brings an action to contest a will, he or she is claiming that, for one reason or another, the will is invalid and should not be used in the administration of the estate of a deceased person. You can probably imagine that this will frequently happen if someone such as a family member expected to receive a sizeable amount of money or property and found out that this was not the case after the will came to light. Challenges to the validity of a will can be costly and time consuming, but the person bringing the will contest claim may see it as worth the cost and effort if he or she believes to be entitled to a substantial inheritance.


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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Rhode Island Simplified Probate for Small Estates

Rhode Island estate law provides a shortcut in the probate process for smaller estates. It is a simplified probate process that allows for an easier transfer of property to the heirs of a person who has died. If an estate qualifies as a “small estate,” a form can be filed and the assets of the estate will be distributed without the need of going before a probate judge.


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Monday, May 21, 2018

The Probate Process


While you may have vaguely heard of the term “probate”, you may very well have no idea what it actually refers to. Yes, it does involve distributing the property of a deceased individual to the heirs, but there is actually a lot more going on. In fact, probate can be incredibly complex and time consuming.
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Monday, October 16, 2017

What Your Loved Ones Absolutely Need to Know About Your Estate Plan

The conversation about a person’s last wishes can be an awkward one for both the individual who is the topic of conversation and his or her loved ones. The end of someone’s life is not a topic anyone looks forward to discussing. It is, however, an important conversation that must be had so that the family understands  the testator’s final wishes before he or she passes away. If a significant sum is being left to someone or some entity outside of the family, an explanation of this action may go a long way to avoiding a contested will. In a similar vein, if one heir is receiving a larger share of the estate than the others, it is prudent to have this action explained. If funds are being placed in a trust instead of given directly to the heirs, it makes sense for the testator to advise his or her loved ones in advance.


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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Should I Transfer My Home to My Children?

Most people are aware that probate should be avoided if at all possible. It is an expensive, time-consuming process that exposes your family’s private matters to public scrutiny via the judicial system. It sounds simple enough to just gift your property to your children while you are still alive, so it is not subject to probate upon your death, or to preserve the asset in the event of significant end-of-life medical expenses.


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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Role of the Successor Trustee

When creating a trust, it is common practice that the person doing the estate planning will name themselves as trustee and will appoint a successor trustee to handle matters once they pass on.  If you have been named successor trustee for a person that has died, it is important that you hire a wills, trusts and estates attorney to assist you in carrying out your duties. Although the attorney that originally created the estate plan would most likely be more familiar with the situation, you are not legally required to hire that same attorney. You can hire any attorney that you please in order to determine what your obligations are.


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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What happens if you are bequeathed a car that no longer exists? The ABCs of Ademption

If you’re involved in settling a loved one’s estate, you may come across the curious word “ademption”. Ademption describes what happens when something designated in a will no longer exists. Say, for example, your uncle dies and leaves for you in his will an old-school Harley Davidson motorcycle. However, if your uncle crashed the motorcycle two years before the will was probated and there’s nothing to leave, then that gift would be considered adeemed and you would receive nothing. This is why certain wills include language that says, “if owned by me at my death.”


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Glossary of Estate Planning Terms

Will - a written document specifying a person’s wishes concerning his or her property distribution upon his or her death.

In order to be enforced by a court of law, a will must be signed in accordance with the applicable wills act.


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Monday, June 19, 2017

How to Leave Gifts to Step-Children

Today, blended families have become increasingly common, and many individuals have step-children, that is, children of a spouse or partner. In situations where step-children have not been legally adopted, however, they do not have a legal right to an inheritance from a step-parent. For those who wish to leave step-children part of their estate , it is necessary to include them in an estate plan.

The easiest way to leave gifts to step-children is to name them in a will. As with any other gift, they can be given a percentage of the estate, or specific gifts. If there are other children involved, it is important to avoid confusion by naming each child and step-child by using their individual names, rather than terms such as "descendants," "heirs," or "children."

There are also a number of estate planning tools that can be utilized to include step-children in an inheritance. If the objective is to avoid probate, for example, a revocable living trust can be established in which a step-child is named as a beneficiary. Moreover, it may be necessary to provide for a disabled step-child who is eligible for public benefits by establishing a special needs trust. Lastly, a step-child can also be named as a beneficiary in a life insurance policy or a pay-on-death financial account.

While there is no legal obligation to leave step-children an inheritance, it may be the best choice for those who have a close relationship, or played a significant role, in raising them. However, this will reduce the amount of assets available to other children and beneficiaries. Because blended family relationships are complex and subject to emotional challenges, it is important to explain these decisions with all family members.

By engaging in an open and honest dialogue, you can minimize the potential for strife and the possibility of a will contest. In particular, it is important to clarify why you gave each recipient a gift, the selection of your executor, and your thoughts about the family.  Lastly, you are well advised to engage the services of an estate planning attorney who can help ensure your wishes regarding step-children are carried out.


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