If the worst happens and you die without a will in place you are considered to have died "intestate." When you have a will in place then your estate, which includes your property, possessions, and other personal items, will be distributed according to the will. This is, of course, contingent on your debts being paid off as well as your funeral and burial costs. A will can be challenged in some cases and be made invalid by others, but for the most part, the instructions left in a will are followed.
When there is no will in place, your property must still be distributed. Here are the rules for which this distribution works:
As you can see, the rules for distributing an estate if the deceased does not have a will can be very complicated. It can also lead to fighting between family members and destroyed relationships.
While it may seem that death is far off and preparing for it is not a pressing matter, anything can happen at any time. Being reasonably prepared for the worst is always a smart idea, and creating a will is one of the most responsible things you can do to protect your family and legacy.
The team at The Knee Law Firm, Ltd. can help you establish a legally binding will that can speak for you if the worst were to happen.
If you are going through a divorce, then you need to work hard to keep your cool. It is a turbulent time. You can feel anger, be afraid of the future, and even be grieving the loss of your relationship. You have to separate the emotional from the logistics and take them on as two separate issues so that you can get through the proceedings and come out the other side with a reasonable arrangement in place. Here are some tips on what you should do if you are going through a divorce.
Set Reasonable Expectations
You need to think rationally when you are dividing assets. You are not going to get everything that you want in a divorce, and if you are the primary breadwinner, then you will most likely be expected to pay child/spousal support, even if you think it is unfair. If you receive child/spousal support, you may be surprised at how little it is to what you thought. Be prepared for things to go differently than you may have initially imagined.
Learn to Let Go
There are often a lot of things that you will need to divide up when you get a divorce. One thing to keep in mind is that you need to be able to let go of things that are not important to you. Squabbling over every single little thing will just drag things out and cause hurt feelings. Focus on the big things such as custody and any property like cars or homes.
Never try to hide assets from your spouse, lawyer, or the courts. Never move money from joint accounts to a personal one once you separate. If you do these things, you can be sanctioned or held in contempt.
Stop Adding Money to Joint Accounts
Once you have separated, it is a good idea to no longer use the joint accounts that you have. Open up your personal account and start putting your paycheques there. You will need to report this money when proceedings begin, but it is not the same as hiding assets.
Try to Settle
You don't have to have a “big day” in court to get a divorce. In fact, it is a better option to try to settle out of court. Your lawyer will be able to negotiate for you, and it can be especially good if you have children so they won’t have to be apart of a courtroom or have not been married very long.
Don't Be Spiteful
Never ruin property, throw away important things, or act in a spiteful way towards your ex-spouse. This can come back to bite you and will most likely make them want to take you to court and refuse to settle outside of court. Furthermore, it is the right thing to do.
The most important thing that you can do when you are in the midst of a divorce is to be forthcoming and rational. Take care of yourself. Try to keep up with your social life, your job, and taking care of your children if you have any. Your life does not end with your divorce, and you need to remember that as you go through the proceedings. If you need a divorce lawyer, then the team at Beyer Knee Law Services are here for you. If you need legal assistance for any family law proceeding, then contact us today, we are here to help.
Splitting up assets during a divorce can be trying. Deciding who gets what and if it is kept intact or sold and split up can result in a headache and a lot of hurt feelings. This stress is compounded when there is debt. It can be difficult to split up debt when a relationship ends. Most debt is assumed under both members of the couple names, as it is easier at the time. When a split happens, this becomes tricky. Who is responsible for the mortgage? Are the car or cars going to be paid off by one individual? Are both of you responsible for the family loan from dad? Hopefully, divorce ends as amicably as possible, but debt can complicate this, so here are some tips for making things go as smoothly as possible while separating with debt.
Keep the Status Quo
When you decide to separate you should keep the status quo as much as possible until you go to court. Joint debts need to be paid as they usually are, and unless you agree with your spouse to up payments on these debts, then just keep paying them off as you usually would. Keep spending to a minimum, as much as possible, and do not make excessive spending decisions on joint credit cards or lines of credit. If you spend irresonsibly after you have decided to separate then a judge can take that into consideration when splitting up finances and debts. Keep the status quo.
If you have joint debts, then you are both equally responsible for paying the debt back. That does not mean that you cannot be pursued by creditors, however, if your ex-spouse does not pay their portion. To try to mitigate this, you can contact banks and creditors that you will be separating from your spouse and that you are not liable for any spending your spouse makes moving forward. This can help protect you from future debts, but you need to understand you may be pursued for current debts owed by you and your spouse jointly.
Debt in Your Name
If you have debt that is not joint, then your spouse is not liable for payment of the debt, even if you used the credit to purchase things that your spouse uses, like their wardrobe. If you let your spouse use your credit card for spendings, such as groceries or gas, then you are also still responsible for it, as this is under your name. On the same hand, you are not responsible for their debt unless you have guaranteed it.
All assets and debt are included in calculations for the net family property when equalization occurs. Debt that you hold in your name is your sole responsibility, but debt that you hold together is split equally between both of you. If you receive more property, though, such as the family home, then more debt may be given to you to equalize things.
Discuss debt early on with your spouse when you are going through a separation, and if things are too heated to discuss debt and assets properly then contact a lawyer immediately so that they can act as a mediator between you both. Separation is never easy, but with the right team on your side it can go as smooth as possible.
Estate planning can be a topic that some people would rather avoid. Dealing with your mortality is not something that most people want to do, but if something were to happen to you, and you did not have a will in place, then it can be a nightmare for those you leave behind. When penning your will there are a lot of things that must be considered, and you do not want to leave anything out that may slip your mind. Working with a family law attorney makes the process easy, as they have the knowledge needed to set up your will without any accidental omissions. Here are some of the most important things that you need to consider putting in your will.
Choose Your Executor
An executor is someone that you either decide upon in advance to execute your will or someone who is appointed by a court to execute your will. An executor files the will with probate; notifies the banks, credit card companies and government agencies of the death; sets up any accounts for incoming funds and pay bills; files an inventory of the estate's assets with the court; maintains property; distributes assets; disposes of other property; and represent the estate in court. You need to talk to the executor you choose if you have selected a family member, and go over these responsibilities with them. It is also a good idea to have an alternate executor, so in case the primary executor cannot perform the duties there is a backup.
If you are a parent, this is the most important reason why you need to create a will! In the will, you can name who your children will go to in the event of your death. Whether your will dictates they go to your spouse, or in the case of both of your deaths a close relative or sibling who has reached the age of majority, having this in writing is incredibly important for the lives of those you leave behind if you die. You can also choose someone to manage your children's property if you want to leave it to them when they come of age.
Your assets, such as cars, property, and even special items such as a watch or specific piece of jewelry that just have to go to a particular person, need to be properly noted in a will. You have to describe the item in detail, for instance, the make and model of a car you are leaving, and the person's name that you are leaving the item to. Not every single item that you own needs to be included in the will, but be as specific as you need to avoid contention after your death.
Store Your Will Safely
Whether you store it in a safety deposit box or keep it in a firebox at home, make sure that your will is protected and that those who need access to it can do so. This is crucial, as the last thing anyone needs is to be scrambling and searching for your will.
The best thing that you can do when you are looking to create a will is to get legal advice on how to create it so that it cannot be contested in court. The team at The Knee Law Firm, Ltd. are ready to help you with estate planning. With our team you will have the security that you need and the confidence that if the worst were to happen, everything would be taken care of.
If you want to legally protect your children, spouse, and assets, and make sure your things are handled and distributed properly after you have passed away, having a will is extremely important. Although wills can get very specific in what is determined after you have passed, here are some of the more general reasons why you need to get a will as soon as possible.
Decide who will take care of your children
If you have children who are under the age of 18 and you pass away suddenly while not having a will, the court will choose who gets to take care of your children among your family or an appointed guardian. Having a will allows you to choose who you would trust to raise your children.
Properly distribute your estate
Many fights have risen after a person in their family has passed away without a will. When you don’t determine how your estate will be distributed, it is basically a free-for-all for your surviving family members. Having a will is a legally-binding contract that lets you control how your estate is distributed so everyone is aware of what they are inheriting.
Avoid an extended probate process
All estates must go through a probate process whether you have a will or not. If you have a will, the process will go a lot faster since the court will know how you want your estate divided. If you don’t have a will, it’s up to the judgement of the court to administer and distribute your estate without your consent, which may cause long delays.
Customize your will whenever you want
While you are alive, you can change your will if anything comes up like a birth, death, or divorce. You can also disinherit individuals out of your will if you need to because of a falling out with a beneficiary or family member. If you don’t have a will, your estate could find its way into the hands of somebody you don’t want to have it.
Lower estate taxes
Having a will allows you to minimize your estate taxes and the value of what is distributed from your estate, whether to family members or charity, will lower the value of your estate when it’s time to pay estate taxes.
Donation and gifting options
If you have a favourite charity you have been donating to through your life, you can set up a way to donate or gift a portion of your estate after you have passed away. Gifts up to $13,000 are exempt from estate tax, which will increase the value of your estate meaning your heirs will get more out of your estate. Gift tax exclusions can change from year to year, so make sure you are always up to date on the laws and how it works.
If you are looking to write a will but don’t know where to start, let the experienced team at The Knee Law Firm, Ltd. be your guide. We can help you properly write a will to ensure that your estate is accounted for and distributed to the people you trust the most.