I found their location, appointment times, and professionalism both helpful and convenient. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly. I left feeling like I got my money's worth.

When Will the Will Work?

How do you know if your will would work when it's needed? The only real way is to expire – but then you won't know if it worked as planned. Most people don't have a will, but then again, is a will really needed? That depends on a lot of factors, such as: are you going to die someday? Do you have children, a spouse or a house? Do you have money or concerns about the legacy you leave?

What about a trust? Maybe you have one or maybe you are even a trust beneficiary. The trust is a more sophisticated planning tool than the will. Depending on the type of trust, a trust may even be used during a person's lifetime for asset protection, disability qualification, financial management, and special needs. Sometimes people get a trust to make the handling of their estate private and easier for the surviving family. Other times people get trusts so that they don't have to deal with probate.

First, if you have a will or a trust, good for you! Those that pass away without a will or trust will be intestate and the state, not the decedent or their family, will dictate how their estate will be distributed. So estate planning is either trust or will based or ironically, it's based on a soon-to-be-deceased person's apathy, procrastination, or fear – which results in intestacy.

In many cases of intestacy, there are issues that surviving family does not agree upon. Those issues can easily become probate litigation and claims on the estate. Even when there is a will, there is often litigation resulting from mistakes in the will that are poorly written and incorrectly witnessed. Is your will going to turn into a probate mess? Do you have close relatives, children or siblings that you don't talk to anymore? Have you had multiple marriages? Are you in a post-marital cohabitating consensual relationship that was not preceded by death or divorce? Do you have enough money for people to fight over? If you've answered yes to any of these questions, then you may have issues that could blow up into probate court litigation.

The only way to really figure out what you have for your estate plan is to actually talk with a trusts and estates (T&E) attorney who understands probate court litigation. The T&E attorney is a specialist who handles matters that touch upon many areas of the law including real estate, banking, business and family law. Almost any attorney can write a will or a trust, but if that attorney is not a T&E lawyer, then you don't actually know what you're getting for the price paid. If that estate plan turns into problems later, you may end up having to hire a T&E lawyer anyway at a much higher cost. It's only your family and your legacy. What is preserving your legacy worth to you?

* Robert S. Meyring, of Meyring Law Firm may be contacted at 678-956-7380. The Meyring Law Firm is located 200 feet east of the railroad crossing on Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta.

Categories: Wills