If you feel like you are in over your head when dealing with a relative’s estate, you may need a lawyer’s help. Lawyers who work in the areas of trusts, probate, and estate planning can assist you with legal issues that arise with the estate.
How Do You Know When You Are “In Over Your Head”?
It may seem simple at first to handle a relative’s estate. Maybe your relative asked you to help set up a trust, or maybe you are the executor named in the will. But at some point, you may realize that you do not know how to handle an issue, such as:
- Taxes, especially if your relative was not a U.S. citizen or if the estate is large
- Investing trust assets prudently
- Resolving a dispute with heirs or beneficiaries
- Going to probate court
- Handling special assets such as valuable artwork or real estate in another country
If you are facing any of these issues and do not know where to start, consider speaking to a lawyer.
How Can a Lawyer Help with the Estate?
Lawyers who handle trusts, estates, and probate in their legal practices have likely seen situations similar to what you are facing. They can help you understand the law and your obligations while handling your relative’s estate.
If you are helping your relative create an estate plan, they can advise you on the best ways to reduce tax liability and fulfill your relative’s wishes. If you are acting as a trustee or executor, they can inform you about the legal requirements you must meet and how to meet them (such as by employing knowledgeable professionals to invest trust assets and do the taxes). If you are an heir or beneficiary with questions, they can answer your questions and help if you need to make a legal challenge to the estate.
You may think that talking to a lawyer is unnecessary. Lots of people believe that they can handle problems within the family, without sharing private details with outsiders. Unfortunately, most people are unfamiliar with the many, many laws governing estates, trusts, and probate. Failing to seek legal advice can lead to increased taxes, unfulfilled wishes, or even legal liability for a trustee.
Planning your estate? Look to Janet Brewer, Esq. for thorough and thoughtful estate planning advice. Janet’s more than 20 years of legal experience will give you confidence and peace of mind. To schedule a “Get Acquainted” meeting, visit Janet's website or call her office at (650) 469-8206.