The first step in preserving your legacy for your loved ones is to consult with an experienced attorney. At Martin & Lunger, P.A., we carefully review your estate, assets, last wishes, and beneficiaries, in order to help you craft a comprehensive estate plan. We will assist in creating wills and trusts, handling trust administration, and guiding executors and administrators through probate. Further, we can help you update your will if you experience a major life event such as a divorce, marriage, birth or death in the family, or a new business opportunity to ensure its terms meet your changed circumstances.
Probate is the process of executing a will and distributing assets of an estate to heirs and beneficiaries. In Delaware, your estate must go through probate in the county where you resided if you die with $30,000 or more in personal property in your name alone or if you own real estate in your name.
If you are named as the personal representative (either executor or administrator) in a will, it is your responsibility to file the necessary paperwork with the probate court. Our knowledgeable lawyers can explain probate law to you, help you gather and fill out paperwork, and guide you through your responsibilities as a personal representative. As the executor of your loved one’s will, you will have to:
We understand that probate comes at a difficult time, so we are committed to assisting you at each stage of the process.
The importance of having a will should never be underestimated. In fact, if you die without a will in place, under Delaware’s intestate succession laws, your assets will pass to your closest relatives. Our experienced estate planning attorneys can help you draft a sound and thorough will that specifies your last wishes and directs how your estate should be divided.
Another option is to create a trust in which the trustee holds legal title to property for the beneficiary. The advantages of a living trust — one you create while alive — are that you retain control over your property and spare your family the time and expense of probate after you pass. There are a variety of trust instruments available to Delaware residents, and we can advise you on which works best in your situation.
Trust administration refers both to a trustee’s management of the trust while the grantor is alive and the transfer of the trust’s property to beneficiaries following the grantor’s death. If you are appointed as trustee for a living trust after the grantor passes, your responsibilities are much simpler than that of an estate administrator, because probate is not involved. In Delaware, trusts are often favored over wills and probate because they generally distribute property to beneficiaries more quickly, allow for more privacy since there is no court supervision, and are a less costly means for distributing assets and property to beneficiaries.
If you are updating or drafting a new estate plan, our lawyers can review your circumstances to see if you would benefit from creating a living trust. Should setting up a trust be in your best interests, we can help you draft a sound document, serve as trustee or appoint a person of your choosing to administer the trust, and transfer property to the trust.
Martin & Lunger, P.A. assists Delaware clients with all aspects of estate planning including probate, wills and trusts, and trust and estate administration. Please call 302-600-0206 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our Wilmington office.