Monday, January 9, 2012

Estate Litigation Requires Competent, Trustworthy Lawyers

Dealing with windfalls, such as an inheritance, can be a time-consuming, albeit eventually rewarding experience, if one is willing to make the effort to investigate the details of an estate and seek out professional counsel to handle the intricate and sometimes thorny parts of the various statutes of estate law.

Laws covering estates generally fall under the laws of individual states or, in Canada, specific provinces, but all estate law is bound in principal by federal statues and subject to tax, though, like the federal income tax, there are wide swathes of exclusions, exemptions and deductions which allow rightful heirs to keep much of what is being passed on from a decedent.

The most arduous part of the process is called probate, wherein a court will examine the will, determine the heirs and the executor (if named in the will, otherwise one will be appointed by the court or chosen by the heirs), set up a tax account and begin the process of separating out assets and liabilities.

The two most important individuals involved in the handling of an estate are the executor and the estate lawyer, and it's of paramount importance that the executor locate and retain a qualified specialist, preferably in the geographical location of the deceased, because, generally, that's where most of the assets will be located.

It's not a difficult task to find qualified estate attorneys in one's particular city of town, thanks to the internet. For instance, somebody looking for a lawyer in Barrie, Ontario, would simply enter search terms on Bing or Google for estate lawyer barrie to return a list of qualified practitioners of estate litigation and then proceed to contact the best and/or most reputable.

Both the executor and the attorney are limited to the amount they can receive from handling an estate. Usually, the amount is a percentage of net assets, somewhere in the range of three to six percent. This generally-universal feature of estate law provides a safeguard to rightful heirs that an unscrupulous executor or attorney (yes, there are a few) cannot appropriate the best or most valuable assets of an estate, be they in the form of real estate, securities, goods or cash in bank accounts.

Dealing with the death of a loved one is an emotional issue for many, but keeping in close contact with the executor over the period of the "estate year" (generally the amount of time it takes to settle and discharge a will and estate) is a good idea for heirs who believe they are entitled to a share of the disbursement.

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