What Is Probate?

Probate  is the court process by which a Last Will and Testament is proved valid or invalid. Its name is derived from a Latin root word that means “the truth.”  It is also the legal process whereby assets of a decedent are administered.  “Administration” means finding, collecting, and distributing assets in kind or after liquidation [...]

Observations From The Trenches: Logical Estate Planning

Over my many years practicing law I have become a niche lawyer concentrating on estate planning. A growing part of my estate planning practice involves administration of trusts and estates. An inevitable part of trust or estate administration is resolving contested matters. Unhappily, a large number of those disputes become litigated matters instead of models [...]

Death And Taxes In 2010

Much has been written and discussed about the absence of an estate tax in 2010.  The debate about what Congress may do rages on and is spiced up with stories about the death of George Steinbrenner and others like the Texas billionaire Dan Duncan, but the little publicized truth is that the 1 year [...]

7 Fatal Problems Of Joint Accounts

When fewer than half of all adult Americans have estate plans, you must ask yourself: why?  One answer is that many people think they have already taken care of how their assets will pass to their heirs through joint tenancy.  Joint tenancy works well if nothing out of the ordinary exists or occurs; but there [...]

The Perils Of Probate, Part Two

In my last blog post I described the emotional and practical reasons why there is so much probate litigation and how to hire an experienced probate litigator; in this post I’ll mention some common contested probate allegations and measures that can be taken to avoid them or to keep them from spiraling out of [...]

The Perils Of Probate, Part One

Probate litigation is a burgeoning and fertile practice area for lawyers.  There are many reasons why probate cases spawn litigation, but most grow from inadequate or defective estate plans nurtured by emotional dissatisfaction or greed. As an estate planner since 1979, I encourage my clients to create an estate plan that takes into consideration [...]