What Is Probate?A
Probate is the public, legal process through which the court makes sure that after you die, your will is valid, your debts are paid, and your assets are distributed according to your will. If an individual dies without a will, the laws of the state where he or she lived will dictate the distribution of assets. It can be a lengthy process; in Arkansas, probate can last anywhere from a minimum of six months to several years.
Does having a Will mean I can avoid Probate?A
Unfortunately, not always. If you only have a will when you pass, only the assets titled solely in your individual name can be distributed as documented under your will. A will cannot control assets that are titled in joint ownership and cannot control assets with beneficiary designations, like your IRA or life insurance policies. If avoiding probate is a concern of yours, you should contact our office to learn more about a revocable living trust or other ways to proactively plan your estate.
What is a Revocable Living Trust?A
Unlike a will, a living trust avoids probate when you die and can control all of your assets (once you have changed the title on your assets to the trust’s name). After the grantor of a trust dies or becomes incapacitated, the successor trustee named in your trust document will manage the trust assets according to your written instructions. Since the trust doesn’t die when you die, it allows for privacy and a quick distribution of assets to named beneficiaries without probate or other court involvement.
What about medical decisions should an accident or illness occur?A
A living will only notifies your physician of the kind of life support treatment you would want in case of a terminal illness or injury. In some states, your physician is under no legal obligation to even follow it.
An “advance directive for health care” or Health Care Power of Attorney is much broader. It lets you give legal authority to another person (like your spouse or adult child) in advance to make any health care decision for you—including the use of life support—if you become unable to make them yourself and it can be legally enforced.
What is Business Law?A
Business law is expansive and incorporates the many rules, statutes, codes, and regulations that are established to govern commercial entities. It also provides a legal framework within which businesses may be conducted and managed. Business law is highly diverse and includes, but is not limited to: business entity formation and organization, negotiations, service agreements, and succession planning.
I want to start a business. What are my options for legal structure?A
There are several business structures, which include sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations. Each type of structure will have its own formation requirements as well as specified requirements to maintain good standing. The tax status and owner’s personal liability will also vary depending on the type of business structure. Just as no two people are the same, neither are two businesses. The type of business structure you select should be based on your personal needs and business plan.
Can I just use a Web service to establish a business entity?A
Although you can use a web service to establish an entity, it’s important to remember you often get what you pay for. While web services may offer you quick “fill in the blank” forms, they cannot provide you with legal advice or tailor questions to your situation. It’s vital to consult with a business lawyer to limit your liability and ensure that you are compliant with both state and federal laws, especially as your business grows.