estate plan

Top 4 Reasons to Hire an Attorney When a Loved One Passes Away

  • Posted on: Mar 25 2021
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When a loved one passes away, you may be overcome with grief and not even thinking about their estate. However, if you are a beneficiary of their estate, it’s important to know whether you should hire an attorney. Although there is likely already an attorney involved, he or she is probably acting in the interest of the executor (if there is a Will) or the trustee (if there is a Trust). Here are 4 reasons to hire an attorney of your own.

1. You question whether the Will or Trust is valid. 

One reason it may be in your interest to hire your own attorney after the death of a loved one is if you question the validity of the estate planning document(s). A Will or Trust can only be valid if the creator has the capacity to establish it. He or she must also understand and have the intention to create it. Sometimes, medical conditions, such as dementia, can interfere with capacity when severe. It’s also imperative that the Will or Trust is created without any undue influence from another person. 

2. There is no Will or Trust. 

Despite their importance, sometimes people die intestate (without a Will or Trust). When this happens the court has the legal right to decide who should receive what from the estate. This generally depends upon the state in which your loved one lived or died. Close family members can initiate the process and request to be appointed administrator of the estate. 

3. You are concerned that the executor or trustee is unable to fulfill his or her responsibilities. 

Taking on the role of executor or trustee is no small commitment. There are many duties that you must fulfill. For example, an executor or trustee has the duty to ensure that they keep beneficiaries informed. Therefore if you believe that the executor or trustee is failing to meet his or her duty – whether due to mental incapacity, medical concerns, etc. – you may want to hire an attorney and try to replace this individual. Your attorney can help you obtain information from this individual, and obtain an informal (or formal if necessary) accounting of all property and debts. He or she can also help you to create a detailed list of the executor or trustee’s actions, and the court may subsequently require the individual in charge to explain any actions deemed questionable. 

4. You don’t understand to what you are entitled under the Will or Trust.

There’s a reason people should consult with an attorney when estate planning: these documents can be downright confusing. Therefore it’s no surprise that sometimes a Will or Trust can be confusing as to what property you are entitled to. An attorney can help you to understand what you deserve and can explain the relevant laws to you. So before you go ahead and waive your right to challenge the legal document, you may want to hire an attorney.

When a loved one passes away, it’s very important that you don’t automatically assume that all documents are correct. Although it’s not required that you hire an attorney, doing so can help you to ensure that all of your rights are upheld and that you receive what is rightfully yours. 

The Law Offices of Brian L. Fox, APLC Helps Those in California with their Estate-Planning Needs

Whether you are listed as a beneficiary of a loved one’s estate or you are in need of an estate plan of your own, it’s important that you understand your rights and to what you are entitled to. That’s why it’s helpful to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced California Business Law Attorney.

At the Law Offices of Brian L. Fox, APLC, we will help you to uphold your legal rights. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

Posted in: Estate Planning