It is never too early to make out a will. The thought of dying is not one that most people wish to dwell on, but it is a reality that must be confronted and planned for, especially if you have assets that are worth considerable amounts of money. You may feel as though you are in good health and have nothing to fear from illness or injury. But any number of incidents could lead to your untimely death or incapacitation. You should have a legal document from wills and trusts lawyer in place that stipulates how your money, capital, and assets should be distributed.

The alternative is to leave a judge to decide how your estate should be divided up. If you die without a valid will, your estate goes into probate, which can lead to everyone with a stake in or legitimate claim to your property into a long and acrimonious struggle over it. You can save your family, friends, and business partners the time, tears, and money that such a fight will cause by making a clear statement in your will of how the financial part of your estate is to be divided.

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They are flexible legal tools that can be used.

Wills do not cover financial matters exclusively. They are flexible legal tools that can be used to bequeath all sorts of things to specific persons after you are gone. Indeed, some of the bitterest fights among families are not about money at all; they are about precious objects and heirlooms that the deceased owned and desired to keep in the family.

This is an area that should be taken seriously, and nothing is too small or insignificant to overlook. What may seem like a minor thing to you may turn out to be of great value to your children or your spouse. Intra-family feuds have broken out over who is to inherit jewelry, wedding dresses, vintage handbags and other accessories. Even old books and libraries have been fought over.

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A trust is another legal means of managing and distributing your money. A trust allows you to exercise control over when, how, and under what conditions the intended trustee gets the money. There are many different types of trusts. The main point of setting one up is that it makes the capital independent of the whims and desires of any one individual. The beneficiary of a trust can only receive the funds if they act according to certain rules and instructions. This can help you instill a certain rigor and discipline in how your money is spent when you are gone.

Health care is another important area covered by wills. In the unfortunate event that you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself, you can appoint someone to act on your behalf. You can even give detailed instructions on what actions you want taken in the event that your condition is terminal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still open questions?

Divorces can be rending, emotionally and financially. Community property laws and the often unpredictable vagaries of judges can make the process even more painful and costly. At Klueger & Stein, we can help plan ahead to reduce both the pain and the costs of a divorce.

Do not be fooled – even if you are innocent, that does not mean the courts are on your side. Jurors often side with the plaintiff who appears to need the funds in question rather than the defendant who they assume has money to spare.

Even a judge’s own personal feelings can put you in jeopardy.

Many of our clients believe that once a lawsuit has been filed against them, it is too late to shield assets from plaintiffs. They are happy to learn that usually there is still a lot they can do to protect their assets.

Many businesses and professions carry extraordinary financial risks that insurance alone can’t protect against. Medicine is a good example. Malpractice premiums are often barely affordable. Insurance does not cover many claims. Similarly impacted are real estate developers and builders and small business owners.

Over the past decade, our attorneys have represented hundreds of physicians, real estate developers, corporate directors and officers and small business owners. We know and understand the risks your business faces, and how to best shield your assets from these risks.

Even if an auto accident is minor, claims against you can be substantial. You can be sued for emotional damages, physical pain or a spurious claim like whiplash. There are approximately 150,000 practicing attorneys in California. Many of them look to your assets to make a living.

In a down real estate market a lot of borrowers find themselves unable to pay back loans or perform on personal guarantees. In difficult economic times banks and lenders pursue borrowers’ assets aggressively and diligently. This means that it is not enough to set up the most basic asset protection structures like revocable trusts or fake equity strips. To defeat the claim of a lender, especially a bank, the asset protection structures used need to be sophisticated and difficult to penetrate. We find that with the right asset protection structure in place, lenders will either give up the chase for your assets or be a lot more willing to negotiate.

All of these issues are best resolved by sitting down with an attorney who specializes in wills and trusts. You may have a family lawyer that you know and confide in. However, if you want to draw up a sound and legally valid will or trust you must work with someone who has deep insight into what New York State law has to say about these matters.

Working with a wills and trusts lawyer will help you employ the kind of language in your documents that will state your desires clearly and that will enable you to avoid all legal difficulties in enforcing them. There should be no vagueness or ambiguity about how your property is to be distributed when you die. A wills and trusts lawyer will help give you and your family peace of mind.

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