Fairhope and Probate Lawyers
No matter what stage of life you’re in, it’s never too early to ensure that your final wishes are documented in a legally enforceable manner. A will is an important part of your estate plan, and it can give you peace of mind to know that your final affairs are in order.
Along the same lines, our firm assists many families in the probate process. If you’re trying to navigate probate while grieving the death of a loved one, don’t face it alone. Allow our team of experienced probate lawyers in Bay Minette to help you.
Let’s sit down and talk about what you need and how we can assist you. Call Wilkins, Bankester, Biles & Wynne in Fairhope at 251-928-1915.
Why You Need a Will
Perhaps you’re just starting your estate planning journey, or maybe you have an outdated will that you need to update. Either way, it’s very important to create a functional and executable will. A will allows you to detail your wishes for your personal property when you pass away.
You’ve worked your entire life to build up your estate, so take a little extra time to make sure your legacy lasts long after you pass. When you put your will in writing with the help of an attorney, it’s much easier for the court to validate and enforce it. Without a will, you risk having your estate be divided per the laws of intestate succession, which may not reflect what you actually want to happen with your assets.
A will also details information that cannot be included in other parts of your estate plan. For example, it allows you to name preferred guardians for your children. These wishes cannot be included in living trusts or other estate planning documents, making a will incredibly important for parents with minor or special needs children.
You’ll also want a will so you can name an executor for your estate. Otherwise, the court has the freedom to name an executor. If there’s a family member you trust above others, it is essential to make sure that your estate is in good hands when you pass. Many estates have been squandered or left in ruins in the hands of a greedy or careless executor.
How Wills Fit into Your Estate Plan
A will isn’t your estate plan—it’s simply one very important part of your estate plan. When it’s used alongside revocable or irrevocable trusts, advance directives, and power of attorney, it’s part of a comprehensive plan that protects your legacy after you pass. Other aspects of your estate plan, such as your power of attorney and advance directive, also guard your assets and autonomy when you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to advocate for yourself.
There are lots of misconceptions about what a will can and cannot do. For that reason, it’s important to talk to a Bay Minette will and estate planning attorney about your estate and what you hope to accomplish with it. Your attorney at Wilkins, Bankester, Biles & Wynne can get an in-depth understanding of your goals and explain the documents and entities you need to achieve them.
Guiding You Through the Probate Process
If you find yourself undergoing the probate process for a loved one, make sure you have an experienced attorney willing to guide you through this emotionally challenging time. Probate is required for most larger estates in Alabama.
However, you can bypass the process if the estate is not worth more than $25,000, all expenses have already been paid, and the estate announcement has been published for at least one week. In these situations, you can avoid probate and the assets go directly to the heir.
There are other ways to avoid probate—the most common one is to place all assets in a revocable or irrevocable trust. With this setup, assets automatically become the responsibility of the next trustee, who is then required to distribute them per the terms of the trust.
The probate process can be long and stressful. It involves assessing and cataloging the assets, verifying and paying off debts, and managing and maintaining the assets until they can be distributed appropriately. The court names an executor and verifies the validity of the will. From there, the executor can pay debts, handle taxes, and manage the appraisals.
Why You Should Choose Wilkins, Bankester, Biles & Wynne
The team at Wilkins, Bankester, Biles & Wynne brings an in-depth understanding of and experience with estate planning and probate to the table. We know how much these issues matter to you and how important it is that we get it right the first time.
Remember, if there’s an error in your will or estate planning documents, it usually isn’t discovered until it’s too late for you to fix it—and at that point, your carefully drafted estate plan can slip into chaos as surviving family members try to determine what you really wanted.
Not only can we assist in the creation of your will, but we are also ready to work with you throughout your lifetime to ensure that it reflects changes in your life and family. When people enter or leave the family, assets depreciate or appreciate, or other life circumstances change, it’s important to keep your will up-to-date.
We’re also passionate about helping families through the probate process. We know how time-consuming it can be, especially when you’re trying to handle your grief and find your new normal. Let our experience help you get through probate as quickly as possible so you can close the estate and move on with the next chapter of your life.
Explore Your Estate Options Now—Contact Our Team Today
Whether you’re looking for assistance with creating a will, modifying a will, or taking an estate through probate, it’s time to talk to the team at Wilkins, Bankester, Biles & Wynne. We’re committed to helping you navigate a complicated area of law that has huge ramifications for your life and the lives of your loved ones. Call our Fairhope office at 251-928-1915 or to set up a time to talk.