Although no one wants to dwell on death, it is vital to outline your wishes so your family understands what should happen when you pass. Estate planning is crucial for everyone, but especially if you have minors or incapacitated individuals in your care. Sometimes estate litigation is required to protect these vulnerable populations if an existing estate plan fails to protect their rights or consider their needs adequately.
At Pennington Law, PLLC, our Arizona estate planning attorneys want to help you draft a plan that protects your family. Having a well-crafted estate plan can give you peace of mind that your children or those with special needs are cared for no matter what happens.
Estate Planning for Minors and Incapacitated Individuals
If you are the guardian of a minor or an incapacitated adult, your estate plan should outline how they will be provided for if you die or become incapacitated yourself. What happens to them if you are gone? Who can you trust to manage their affairs responsibly? An estate planning attorney can help you draft a plan that answers these questions.
First, you need to create a will. A last will and testament is a legal document that allows you to specify what you want to happen after your passing. You can use a will to nominate a legal guardian for your children and dictate how your assets will be distributed. Without a will, the state of Arizona decides what happens to your estate, not you.
In addition to a will, consider establishing trusts for minors or incapacitated adults. A trust affords you more control over your assets. A special needs trust can provide protection and security for disabled individuals who need supplemental income. You can also set up trust funds for minors. However, the type of trust you need depends on your unique circumstances. An experienced Arizona estate planning attorney can review your financial situation to help you determine which type of trust aligns with your goals.
During this process, you must also consider appointing trustees to manage your trust accounts and guardians for your children. Before nominating a guardian or trustee, talk to the person about your wishes and the position’s responsibilities. Choosing people you trust is paramount.
Contesting Wills and Trusts Involving Minors and Incapacitated Individuals
Unfortunately, there are times when family members may choose to contest (or dispute) a will. Before an individual can contest a will, it must be submitted to the court for probate. Only those with legal standing as an “interested person” can contest a will. Trustee mismanagement and breach of fiduciary duty are common reasons for trust disputes.
You can help avoid potential problems by planning your estate with a knowledgeable Arizona estate planning lawyer and discussing your wishes with your family.
Handling Estate Disputes Involving Minors and Incapacitated Individuals
Some of the most common conflicts in estate disputes related to minors and incapacitated individuals involve guardianship disputes and the division of assets. Family members may have different viewpoints on how their relatives should be cared for and who should oversee their care, which can create tension and may lead to estate litigation.
In some cases, mediation may be an alternative to litigation for resolving a dispute. A mediator is a neutral individual who fosters communication and cooperation between two parties in the hopes they can reach a mutual agreement. You may need to take your case to court if alternative dispute resolution options fail.
Contact a Skilled Estate Litigation Lawyer for Help
You can help reduce the risk of misunderstandings, disputes, and common estate pitfalls if you work with a skilled Arizona estate planning attorney from Pennington Law, PLLC. An attorney can help you craft a solid will and estate plan that outlines your wishes and protects your vulnerable dependents. Contact our office today for a free legal consultation.