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Frequently Answered Questions

If one parent moves out and leaves the kids with the other parent, does it hurt the moving parent's chances of getting custody at a later date?


It could. Any decision to leave the marital home should be carefully considered. Even if the living situation is tenuous and staying seems less than pleasant, it’s a precedent you don’t want to set when custody is in question. If you believe that leaving the home is your only option, you should have a temporary custody agreement put in place before leaving. This way the precedent set is based on that and your move is not seen as abandoning the family.

I am worried if I file for divorce, my spouse will freeze me out of the bank account or cancel my credit cards. What can I do?


It depends on your living arrangement and how the accounts are set up. The best thing you can do is contact a divorce attorney to help you determine what to do in your specific situation. If you are both still living in the same home, the bank account and other assets are considered marital property, therefore, you legally have access to it. The same is true if your name is on an account.

Estate Planning Law



Is Jointly Owned Property a good estate Plan?


Though jointly owned property might work fine for some families, it’s usually not enough of an estate plan. Furthermore, jointly owned property can put the asset at risk unnecessarily. For instance, if you decide to create a jointly owned property arrangement with your child so it automatically passes to him or her when you die, but your child is in debt or divorces, access to that property might be given to creditors or your child’s former spouse. Furthermore, jointly owned property can create tax issues and thwart a well-crafted estate plan.

What happens if you die without a will?


Dying without a will is also called dying "intestate". When this happens, the intestacy laws of the state in which the decedent lived determine how property is distributed upon his or her death. Property includes all bank accounts, securities, real estate, and other assets owned at the time of death. Not having a will when you die can lead to family legal disputes and a lengthy probate process. It also reduces the odds your intentions will be carried out as you’d hoped.

How long do you have to file probate after death?


Most probate can be started immediately or at any time after the testator's death up until the deadline set by state law. This deadline varies by state, but typically tends to be about three to five years. In general, probate takes a few months, but it can be longer when an estate includes property that takes a while to sell or if there are complicated tax issues. Smaller estates cannot be filed until 30 days after death and is complete upon filing.

Can An Estate Be Administered With A Missing Heir?


Distribution of an estate can be complicated if an heir is missing. Each state has its own laws for dealing with missing heirs, but in general, there must be a genuine effort made to find the heir. If the heir cannot be found, the inheritance is held in trust for a length of time determined by state law and then passes to the next heir in line. If nobody is next in line, legal ownership of the inheritance transfers to the state.

What is a living will/advance healthcare directive?


A living will, also known as an advance healthcare directive or medical directive, is a legal document in which a person specifies the actions that should be taken concerning their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves due to illness or incapacity. They are written, legal directions for medical care that need to be followed if there is no way to speak to the individual about his or her wishes.

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