Do wills help avoid probate?
No, wills do not help your heirs to avoid probate. What making a will does do is direct the court to give your estate to whomever you say in your will. But the Probate Court is still the entity responsible for overseeing the valuation of all assets, the resolution of debts, paying the probate lawyers and other court costs, and then distributing whatever is left to your heirs.
If I have a trust, do I still need a will?
Yes, you still need a will even if you have a living trust. A will created in conjunction with a living trust is called a pour over will. This type of will doesn’t contain any significant distribution information and refers to the living trust document. A pour over will is commonly used as a fail safe to catch any assets that may be outside the living trust.
Can I write my own will?
Yes, you can write your own will. This is called a holographic will. However, if you have a complex estate or multiple heirs, you should call us to help you out. The up front cost of making a will professionally is very minor compared to problems in Probate Court later!
Do I need witnesses when making a will?
It is a good idea to have two disinterested witnesses sign your will. Disinterested witnesses are those that have nothing to gain from the terms of your will.
What do I do if I think there was undue influence when my family member changed their will?
When deciding if there is undue influence, the court looks at a number of factors, which at a high level include the victim’s vulnerability, how much authority the influencer had, how much change the influencer was able to make and if it was very different from what the victim had originally stated they wanted, and finally how the influencer controlled the victim. None of these factors are cut and dry and there is normally extensive litigation required to prove undue influence. But if you feel that your family member is or was being unduly influenced, please contact us immediately.