“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets planning.”

— Thomas Edison

Probate

When a loved one dies with property titled in their name, the law requires the use of probate to transfer the estate to the beneficiaries.  The probate court must make many determinations before it allows distribution of the property, which include the following:

  • Is there a will?
  • Is the will legally valid?
  • Are there creditors who must be paid before the beneficiaries can be considered?
  • How should the remaining estate be distributed?
  • Are there any objections to the will that must be heard?

If there is no will (intestacy), the probate court appoints an Administrator to handle similar issues and determines the distribution of the remaining estate based on state laws.  The probate process can be complicated, and even one omission can stop it in its tracks.  It is essential to use experienced attorneys for all or part of the process.

At Schwartz Manes Ruby, we have the experience to provide whatever assistance is needed during the probate proceedings.  If the estate is simple and straightforward, we can serve in an advisory capacity.  For a complicated estate, we will make sure that every step of the probate process is followed to ensure that the decedants' wishes are followed.

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Trust Administration

An individual can use a trust rather than a will to administer and distribute assets after death. This process is private and often does not require the involvement of a probate court. Trustees have special responsibilities when carrying out their duties under the trust. Beneficiaries also are entitled to receive information about the administration.

At Schwartz Manes Ruby, our attorneys have a broad background in writing trusts and they handle trust administrative issues daily.  With that experience our attorneys can ensure that the trust is administered efficiently and advantageously for everyone involved.

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Litigation

It’s an unfortunate fact of life: the emotions caused by the death of a loved one can lead to inheritance disputes.  Here are just a few common situations that may occur:

  • Someone not named in a will or trust feels entitled to receive specific properties
  • A family member with diminished capacity is convinced to re-distribute property or alter the terms of the will or trust
  • Family members contest the inheritance of property by non-family members
  • The heirs of an estate seek to remove an existing trustee or executor, who they perceive to be negligent or dishonest

The attorneys at Schwartz Manes Ruby know how to handle any inheritance dispute that may arise.  We can help make sure that all beneficiaries receive the property they were intended to inherit.

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Estate Tax

As of 2009, a person can pass $3.5 million of their estate free of federal estate taxes to their heirs, with the remainder subject to a 45 percent tax. 

There are many opportunities to protect assets from estate tax, but you need experienced attorneys to analyze your situation and advise you about your options. The attorneys at Schwartz Manes Ruby can work with you to reduce or even eliminate those estate taxes.

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Trustee Representation

Simply stated, a trustee is someone (a person or an institution) who administers property on behalf of others.  If you are named as a trustee over someone’s estate, you are considered to be a "fiduciary" and you must know your legal responsibilities.  Your potential responsibilities may include:

  • Carrying out the provisions of the trust instrument regardless of the beneficiaries’ wishes
  • Being subject to liability to claimants, prospective beneficiaries, or other third parties involved with a trust
  • Investing trust assets and making decisions about trust funds
  • Preparing and filing tax returns

It makes sense to seek the advice of an attorney to help you understand your responsibilities and to carry them out.  Schwartz Manes Ruby can help you perform your duties as a Trustee in a legal and responsible manner.

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Beneficiary Representation

When you lose a loved one, the property left to you means more than just its dollar value.  That property represents what you meant to the person who left it to you.  Whether you are a family member or a trusted friend, you want to make sure that you are well represented in the event that your inheritance is contested.

The attorneys at Schwartz Manes Ruby understand how important it is to carry out the wishes of a decedant.  With over three decades of experience handling all aspects of wills and trusts, we can help you protect your rights.

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Call our office at (513) 579-1414 or contact us online today to help with probate and trust and estate administration.