Avoid Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Are you writing a will or looking into estate planning? Avoid common estate planning mistakes listed in this article. Then, call our lawyers.

Writing Your Own Will

Avoid Common Estate Planning MistakesWe are often asked whether a client can write his or her own will, and we strongly recommend against it. First of all, handwritten wills are not legal. Secondly, wills have to be properly witnessed by two witnesses. If an attorney supervises the signing of the will, it’s presumed to be properly executed. To avoid will contest, which can involve thousands of dollars, we prepare wills for only $79. It’s a rather simple process. We have you complete an information sheet in advance of the appointment. We discuss all of your information on the sheet at the first appointment, and then you’ll come back for a second

Probate Time Frame

  • The probate process takes at least 7 months
  • The estate must be left open for 7 months to allow creditors the opportunity to file claims against the estate

Non-Probated Assets

  • Assets that are in your name alone are probate assets
  • Joint bank accounts are an example of non-probate assets

How to Perform the Duties of Executor of an Estate

In order for an executor to act in accordance with a will, the court must issue a certificate to the executor so they can take control of the decedent’s personal property, real property, and be able to sell it and make distributions. The will itself does not give the executor authority to act. It is only when certain paperwork is filed with the Surrogate’s Court that the executor will be given certificates showing his authority to act. The executor has to sign a petition, waivers have to be signed by the relatives, and notices of probate have to be sent to certain beneficiaries. For further information, please see our executor’s legal survivor guide, which is available on the website.

Debt After Debt

People often ask me what will happen with their debt when they die. Sometimes a debt will be paid off and sometimes it will not be paid off. There are certain instances where the debt exceeds the value of the assets, or they may have a home that’s only worth $50,000 and there’s debt of $100,000. In that case, an estate may never be opened. If there’s a surviving spouse, the surviving spouse is entitled to at least $50,000 from the estate, free of debt. If there’s Medicaid liens for nursing home care, certain disabled children can receive the house without having to pay the debt off.

Are you writing a will or looking into estate planning? After reading how to avoid common estate planning mistakes that are listed in this article, contact our experienced Rochester Estate Planning Lawyers to schedule your legal consultation and case evaluation and get started on your claim.

The experienced Rochester Lawyers of Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC provide dedicated and knowledgeable legal representation to Western New York residents.  If we can be of any service, contact us at one of our seven locations.

Attorney Robert Friedman is a partner with Friedman & Ranzenhofer and has achieved the rating of superb on Avvo.

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