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According to Forbes, over half of all Americans don’t have even a basic estate plan in place. Although most people probably don’t think of making plans for their assets after death a priority, it’s an important consideration for adults of all ages and stages of life. An experienced estate planning attorney can help clients understand and organize living trusts and wills. While both documents serve the purpose of naming beneficiaries for property, they also have individual features that are useful.
The majority of clients that choose living trusts do so to avoid probate. This is the court process that a will must go through to allow distribution of assets by the executor. Living trusts make the process faster since the successor trustee does not have to go through the court. Instead, he or she pays the debts and distributes assets on their own according to written instructions from the original trustee. While drafting a living trust may involve a bigger up-front investment than drafting a will, the ability to avoid court often avoids an excess financial expense. A living trust allows the client to name someone to handle property in the event of incapacitation and can make the process of handling an estate, particularly a large one, easier for loved ones after death.
For those with young children, a will is usually the more popular option. Although the execution of a will does require the probate court process, it is also unlike a living trust in that it allows clients to name guardians for young children and establish managers for the underage beneficiaries’ property. Additionally, those with little property or extensive debts may find a will to be a better option, as wills specifically instruct the executor on how to pay taxes and debts. Creating a will with an estate planning attorney is a much less complex process than drafting a living trust, and the investment may also be significantly less.
Trying to decide whether you need a living trust or a will? The Law Offices of Stephen P. Levesque, an experienced estate attorney, can help. We know how confusing the process can be. Rely on our guidance to help you make legal decisions with confidence. Contact us online or by calling (401) 216-4188 to schedule your consultation today.
Purchasing real estate, whether it’s a home, investment property, or commercial space, is a major transaction that should only be entered into after careful consideration and due diligence. One of the most important aspects of that due diligence is ensuring that the seller actually has, and can convey, clear title to the property. But even after a search, unexpected problems can arise that ‘cloud’ title down the road. Title insurance protects buyers from the negative consequences of problems with title.
Title to a piece of property is the right, or bundle of rights, to possess and use the property. In most real estate transactions, title is conveyed from buyer to seller via a warranty deed, which basically means the seller promises that he or she owns the property free and clear of any liens, easements, or adverse claims from other people who might have an interest in the property. When a buyer purchases a title insurance policy, the insurer conducts a search to make sure there are no problems with the seller’s title, and agrees to compensate the buyer for their loss should an issue of title arise in the future.
Title insurance is a textbook example of something that’s better to have and not need than need and not have. While plenty of real estate transactions come off without any title issues, the amount of money involved in a real estate purchase makes it very prudent to invest in title insurance. A mortgage lender will almost always require title insurance covering the lender, but it’s a good idea for the buyer to purchase their own policy (the lender’s policy only covers their loss). Things like unknown heirs, ‘wild’ deeds outside the chain of title, or errors in the recording and/or indexing of chain of title are common enough that they should be protected against. Prices vary by state, but title insurance can generally be purchased for $1,000 to $4,000. Compared to the potential loss if someone appears with better title, it’s an advisable hedge that’s worth the cost.
A real estate purchase is too important to leave anything to chance. Protect your investment and gain peace of mind by working with an experienced real estate attorney at The Law Offices of Stephen P. Levesque. Stephen P. Levesque has more than 20 years of experience counseling clients in real estate transactions along with other practice areas such as estate planning and probate law. Call (401) 216-4188 for a free consultation today.
Bankruptcy can be a viable solution for helping individuals and businesses eliminate or restructure debts that they can’t afford to repay. However, there are consequences. A bankruptcy can remain on credit reports for up to a decade, which makes getting a loan difficult. For some, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, but it’s important to understand each type of bankruptcy before making a decision.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy can discharge most unsecured debts. Secured debts, including alimony, child support, taxes, and student loans, cannot be discharged. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can temporarily stop the foreclosure process, but debtors will need to catch up on their mortgage payments to avoid losing their homes. People whose income is above the state median may not qualify, and debtors choosing Chapter 7 won’t be able to file for this type of bankruptcy again for eight years. The process takes about four months to complete, and some assets may have to be sold to help repay creditors.
Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debtors set up a payment plan to repay all or most of their debts. Payments will be made over three or five years. Most remaining unsecured debts will be discharged after the repayment period. This type of bankruptcy allows debtors to keep their assets. It can also put a stop to the foreclosure process, allowing past-due mortgage payments to be made through the repayment plan. There are no income limitations for Chapter 13 bankruptcies, but secured and unsecured debts can’t exceed certain amounts. This form of bankruptcy falls off of a debtor’s credit report after seven years and can be filed for again in two years. Individuals considering Chapter 13 bankruptcy should hire a bankruptcy attorney to help them submit their repayment plans in court.
Two additional types of bankruptcy, Chapter 11 and Chapter 12, also seek to eliminate or restructure debt. Corporations and large businesses typically file for Chapter 11 bankruptcies; while farmers and fishermen generally choose Chapter 12 because of its higher debt limits, flexible repayment plans, and other benefits.
Despite the prevalence of misinformation about bankruptcy, it can be a useful tool. If you’re looking for a way to restructure your debt, let attorney Stephen P. Levesque help you decide if bankruptcy is your best option. He can answer your questions, recommend a course of action, and help you navigate the legal process. To schedule a consultation, call The Law Offices of Stephen P. Levesque at (401) 216-4188 or contact us online.
Accidents are always stressful. Even when there are no serious injuries, dealing with the aftermath of car repairs, insurance claims, and potential legal issues can be a headache. After a severe car accident, drivers should consider hiring an experienced personal injury attorney to deal with insurance companies and, if necessary, help recover damages.
When people call the insurance company of the party responsible for an accident, they are often being recorded. The insurance company gets consent by claiming that the recordings are only for training purposes. However, these recordings can be used to establish inconsistencies in people’s stories so that insurance companies can deny their claims.
Most people assume that the premiums people pay for their policies are how insurers make their money. However, most large insurance companies generate the bulk of their revenue by taking the money they collect from customers’ premiums and investing in portfolios of stocks, bonds, real estate, and other assets. Meaning that if they are forced to pay for a settlement, they are losing out on not just the principal sum but also the proceeds they could have made by investing those funds, which gives them an incentive to delay settling claims for as long as possible.
Insurance companies may act nonchalant about the prospect of going to court, but this is mostly posturing. Though they will try to draw out the process, it is far more advantageous for an insurer to settle and avoid the expense of litigation if a claimant has a strong case. An experienced personal injury attorney can help evaluate a claim and negotiate with an insurance company.
At The Law Offices of Stephen P. Levesque, we work tirelessly to get all of the information we need to assist our clients. Stephen P. Levesque is a personal injury attorney with decades of experience handling personal injury claims. Read testimonials from our clients, or call us today at (401) 216-4188 for assistance.
Trusts are an integral part of estate planning for many individuals. Understanding the most common types of trusts offers insight into how these tools can be used to provide for future generations.
With a revocable trust, the person who creates the trusts retains full control over the assets therein. He or she has complete freedom to change or cancel the trust. A revocable trust is sometimes called a “living trust.” This structure is often used to avoid probate, which can cause a lengthy delay of settling the individual’s estate. However, assets held within the trust are available to the creator’s creditors, if any.
Irrevocable trusts transfer the assets to the trust beneficiary and cannot be controlled or revoked by the creator. One type of irrevocable trust, a life insurance trust, provides tax advantages when created to hold life insurance proceeds.
These trust funds are commonly established to save money for children and grandchildren. When the beneficiaries of the trust reach a certain age, they are often given the funds to use as they please.
This form of trust is managed by an independent trustee. He or she has the final say in how the funds are spent. This structure could be used to provide for a minor child without giving the child full control, for example.
An individual who is disabled or has special needs may rely on government benefits. A special needs trust allows this person to benefit from a loved one’s estate without losing government assistance.
This type of trust is designed to protect assets and can be used to benefit from estate planning tax guidelines. When one spouse passes away, the other spouse receives the marital trust. Any remaining assets pass to children or other beneficiaries after the second spouse passes.
Rhode Island residents can rely on The Law Offices of Stephen P. Levesque for their estate planning needs. We can help create trusts and manage wills to ensure that an individual’s estate is administered in accordance with his or her wishes. Call (401) 490-4900 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
At our law firm, we promise you knowledge, compassion, and experience. Since 1997, his years of courtroom experience means you will know all your options and you will have a lawyer with the experience to represent you no matter how complicated your case may be. Stephen will fight for you and fight for your best interests. This results in exceptional representation. Stephen is that lawyer you know you can count on to stand by you. Whether at court, during negotiations, or through every legal document, motion, or pleading he prepares, Stephen is aggressively advocating for you. Stephen uses his insight, knowledge, and experience to provide valuable legal information to many people with his radio show on News Talk 630 WPRO. Whether it’s a large or small legal matter, he offers helpful advice that can point listeners in the right direction.