Tips from an Experienced Will Lawyer Ridgefield, CT Counts On
8 Tips to Consider When Writing Your Estate Plan
John Sweeney of Sweeney Legal, LLC is a will lawyer in Ridgefield, CT who recognizes the importance of planning one’s estate. Many people wonder if they should have some type of plan in the event of death. The short answer to that question is yes. Properly executed estate planning is imperative for the well-being of your family after you pass. It can be overwhelming and difficult to find a starting point and there are many available options and documents that can be included. Sweeney Legal, LLC is ready to guide you in creating the most appropriate estate plan for you. Of the many options, creating a will is possibly one of the most important. In including a will, you are ensuring that your family will be cared for according to your wishes. We have many years of experience in estate planning law. We are here to help you. After all, a properly executed plan may protect you and your family now and after you pass.
The following information explores the basic elements of a will as part of your estate plan. Though you may be in good health and not yet at an advanced age, it’s never too soon to consider your loved ones’ futures after your passing. In fact, if you do not have an estate plan in place prior to your passing, it may be up to a court to distribute your estate’s assets without any regard for your final wishes.
Such a scenario can cause further grief and turmoil for your loved ones after you pass away. Creating a legally sound estate plan in advance of your final moments can offer you immediate relief and peace of mind with the knowledge that your legacy is secure. As a will lawyer in Ridgefield, CT, John Sweeney can be of great assistance to you with this.
Below are the ten most common things people usually include in their estate plan. However, do keep in mind that your estate plan should be revisited and edited as needed about every three to five years or as life circumstances change. John Sweeney will be pleased to offer his legal services to you at that time, and if you have need for a will lawyer to make changes to an existing will, call him today.
What an Estate Plan May Include:
Those who have not yet created an estate plan can benefit from meeting with a will lawyer in Ridgefield, CT such as John Sweeney of Sweeney Legal, LLC. He will be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have during the process. Listed here are ten tips to consider when writing your estate plan:
- Creation of a Will: a list of beneficiaries who shall inherit your assets (property, monetary value, treasures, vehicles, etc.) after death. Your will lawyer in Ridgefield, CT can provide guidance as to which of your possessions you might want to include. We can assist you in identifying and valuing your assets in order to create a comprehensive picture of your “estate”. This might possibly be the most overwhelming process as it is important to include all assets—real estate, vehicles, artwork, jewelry, furniture, money market accounts, stocks, bonds, etc.
- Establish a Living Trust: writing a living trust can help prevent your loved ones from going through probate court in regards to your estate. A will lawyer in Ridgefield, CT such as John Sweeney of Sweeney Legal, LLC can explain the various types of living trusts, and which one might best suit your needs.
- Health Care Declarations: in the event you become incapacitated or disabled, these health care declarations include your preferences for medical care.
- Naming a Guardian: if your children are minors when you pass, this is someone who you choose to be their legal guardian. This can be an important aspect to estate planning when guardianship would otherwise be unclear.
- Appoint Power of Attorney (Financial): otherwise referred to as a durable power of attorney for finances, this is someone you appoint to take care of your finances if you become unable to handle them yourself.
- Discuss Debts: it is one thing to pass on an inheritance to your family but it is quite another to pass on debt. Sweeney Legal, LLC is prepared to discuss options that handle your debt so that your loved ones do not have to. Depending on the documents you choose to handle your estate, you may be able to absolve debt or include a plan to settle your debt so that the burden does not fall on others.
- Communicate with Beneficiaries: consider being open with your beneficiaries about what is included in your estate plan, so they have an idea of what to expect down the line. It can be quite overwhelming to decide who will get what after your death. Your will lawyer in Ridgefield, CT can offer you additional tips not included here. Sweeney Legal, LLC has experience in asset distribution and can help you come up with a plan that is sensitive and thoughtful.
- Organize Key Documents: the person you appoint as will executor may need to have access to the most important documents regarding your estate (including will, trust, deeds, stocks, insurance policies, retirement plans, credit cards, unpaid taxes and any other documents with final instructions). Be sure they will have access to this information when the time arrives.
- Consider Funeral Expenses: you can create a payable upon death account with your bank, into which you can deposit funds into to pay for your funeral expenses.
- A will can be changed or modified at any time: in the event that things change and you desire to modify your will, a will lawyer Ridgefield trusts can assist in the process. Inevitably things will likely happen in your life causing changes to your estate and possibly your wishes. Fortunately, wills are designed to allow for such modifications.
John Sweeney of Sweeney Legal, LLC is a will lawyer who has dedicated himself to providing legal services to his community of Ridgefield, CT. Contact him today to learn more about how he can help you preserve your legacy and ensure that your final wishes are followed by those you leave behind.
A Will Lawyer Ridgefield, CT Families Trust Discusses Fraudulent Wills
Every day, will lawyers hear terrible stories about how a client’s loved one was taken advantage of by some unscrupulous person. A common scenario usually involves an elderly person who was being helped by a home health aide for a few years and then passes away. When their will is read, their family discovers that no one in the family is receiving any part of the person’s estate as they had been told in the past. Instead, a new will was executed that leaves everything to the home health aide.
At Sweeney Legal, LLC, we are here to help you and your family should you find yourself victims of suspected will fraud. Contact our office today to meet with one of our Ridgefield, CT will lawyers and find out how we can help.
When Should You Contest a Will?
Any time you think that a will does not really reflect what your loved one’s last wishes, you should contact an estate litigation attorney to contest the will. When you contest, you are requesting the court to declare the will invalid.
There are several reasons why a judge may declare a will invalid. One of those reasons is if the evidence shows that the decedent was unduly influenced by someone when the will was being executed. In the above scenario, a will lawyer would present evidence to the court that would show the type of influence or manipulation the home health care aide may have used to get the elderly person to change their will and leave all the assets to the aide instead of family members.
There may also be evidence that the decedent suffered from some type of condition that would have prohibited them from having the mental capacity to create the changes in the will, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The will can also be contested if it is suspected that it was forged and it was not signed by the decedent. The same rules apply if the will was altered in some way without the decedent’s consent.
Another reason why a will can be declared invalid is if the decedent signed the will but did not know what the actual instructions were – in this scenario, distributing all assets to the healthcare aide and not family members.
A will lawyer in Ridgefield, CT will carefully evaluate your case and gather all pertinent evidence and witness testimony to determine what grounds will apply in your situation.
How Do I Contest a Will?
In order to be successful at contesting a will, you need a skilled and experienced will lawyer. If you believe that your loved one’s will does not reflect their last wishes, the legal team at Sweeney Legal, LLC can help you determine if the will is able to be contested and on what grounds. We will then work diligently to get you the best outcome based on the circumstances of your case.
Amending Your Estate Plan Post-Divorce
In most marriages, it is generally assumed that in the event that one spouse predeceases the other, all marital and non-marital property will remain in the ownership of the living spouse. Certainly, there may be some exceptions to this general rule. A parent may wish to leave some sentimental or valuable property to a child, even if his or her spouse remains living. Or an individual may wish to leave a gift to an important charitable organization upon the event of his or her death. But in general, property is generally left to a living spouse. So, what is to be done when a marriage ends and an individual’s estate plan still leaves most or all of his or her property to a former spouse?
Making Your Wishes Clear
If you are either in the process of divorcing your spouse or have already finalized a divorce, it is critically important to amend your estate plan in accordance with your current wishes. An experienced Ridgefield, CT will lawyer can help to guide you through the amendment process. If you fail to amend your estate plan, a court will be compelled to decide whether you intended all of your property to remain in the possession of your former spouse. It will then be a judge who decides the fate of your property, not you.
It is worth noting that you should consider amending your estate plan even if you still intend for your property to pass along to your former spouse and you still intend for your former spouse to serve in designated capacities like power of attorney. If you do not amend your estate plan to clearly indicate that these are still your wishes post-divorce, a loved one may challenge your wishes and insist to the court that you did not intend for your estate plan to stand as written given that it was drafted before your divorce. By making your wishes clear, whatever those wishes may be, you will better ensure that they are respected. It is worth noting that there are specific ways you may need to articulate your wishes in order for them to remain legally enforceable. A Ridgefield, CT will lawyer can help you to achieve this important distinction.
How Have Your Wishes Changed?
When thinking about amending your estate plan in the wake of your divorce, it is important to consider all elements involved in your plan. If you no longer want property to pass as written, explain to your Ridgefield, CT will lawyer the ways in which you want your directions modified. If you no longer wish for your former spouse, or perhaps a step-child, to be listed as the beneficiary on life insurance policies, etc. you will need to make that change explicitly. In addition, if you need to alter power of attorney and/or medical power of attorney designations, both make those changes to your plan and inform your new designees.
Legal Help Is Available
If you have questions or concerns about estate planning in the wake of a decision to divorce, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced Ridgefield, Connecticut will lawyer. Consulting with the team at Sweeney Legal, LLC will not obligate you to take any specific action but it will allow you to make the most informed decisions possible for you and your family. Although the process of dealing with your estate plan can be overwhelming, it is a good idea to modify it as soon as you determine that it needs to be changed. Failure to act quickly enough could lead to consequences that are not compatible with your wishes.
Contact a Ridgefield, Connecticut Will Lawyer from Sweeney Legal, LLC Today!
It is of great importance to make arrangements for those you are leaving behind. A proper estate plan that includes a will is a great start. Contact Sweeney Legal, LLC today to discuss and begin the process. Our attorneys are sensitive and thorough. We pride ourselves in helping people through the most difficult aspects of estate planning. Call Sweeney Legal, LLC today to set up a free and confidential case evaluation with a will lawyer Ridgefield, CT clients recommend and find out how we can help.
"He is extremely diligent and efficient! His attention to detail is amazing, and he is incredibly versed in the ins-and-outs of elder law."