What is a Probate Lawyer?

probate lawyer

When managing a deceased loved one’s affairs, the term “probate lawyer” often becomes a crucial part of the conversation. But what exactly is a probate lawyer, and when might you need one?

A probate lawyer, also known as a probate attorney or estate attorney, is a legal professional who specializes in handling estate matters, including the probate process. Probate is the legal procedure through which a deceased person’s estate is properly distributed to heirs and designated beneficiaries, and payment to creditors.

When Do You Need a Probate Lawyer?

Knowing when to engage a probate lawyer is essential. Here are some scenarios where their expertise is invaluable:

  1. Complex Estate: If the deceased’s estate is large or complex, involving various types of assets, a probate lawyer can help navigate the intricacies.
  2. Disputed Will: In cases where someone contests the will, a probate attorney can represent your interests in court.
  3. No Will: If the deceased didn’t leave a will, an estate planning attorney can guide you through the state’s laws regarding inheritance.
  4. Debts Exceed Assets: A lawyer for a will can provide advice on how to proceed if the estate’s debts surpass its assets.

How Can a Probate Attorney Help?

Wills and estate lawyers play a pivotal role in easing the probate process. Here’s how they can assist:

  1. Legal Guidance: They provide expert advice on estate laws and ensure compliance with all legal procedures.
  2. Document Preparation: They handle all the paperwork from filing the will in court to preparing necessary documents for asset transfer.
  3. Estate Management: They help in inventory the estate’s assets, pay off debts, and distribute the remaining assets.
  4. Litigation: If disputes arise, your attorney can represent you in court and defend your rights and interests.

A probate lawyer is key to probating a will smoothly and managing estate affairs. Their expertise ensures legal compliance and peace of mind during a challenging time. If you find yourself in a complex estate situation or facing legal uncertainties after the death of a loved one, consulting with a probate attorney is a wise step forward. The compassionate and experienced McCutchen McLean, LLC team is here to help. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation.

Digital Assets: How Do I Protect My Digital Footprint With a Will?

digital assets

In today’s digital age, our lives have become intertwined with technology in more ways than we can imagine. We document memories, manage our finances, and even conduct business online. These digital footprints, often called digital assets, hold immense value, both sentimental and financial. As technology advances, protecting these assets in your estate planning has become crucial. So, what are digital assets in will and estate planning, and how can you safeguard them?

Digital assets encompass a wide range of virtual property, including but not limited to:

  • Social media profiles
  • Financial records
  • Email and communication
  • Digital media
  • Domain names and websites

Steps for Digital Asset Protection

To protect your digital assets effectively, consider these steps:

1. Take Inventory: Create a detailed list of all your digital assets, including logins and passwords, and instructions on management.

2. Appoint a Digital Executor: Designate a trusted individual in your will as an executor to manage your digital assets. Ensure they have the necessary knowledge and access.

3. Provide Clear Instructions: Specify your wishes for each asset. For example, you might want to delete certain online accounts, transfer ownership, or maintain them for family memories and sentimental reasons.

4. Use Online Tools: Some online services offer tools to manage virtual assets should you become incapacitated or deceased. Explore these options and integrate them into your estate plan.

5. Seek Legal Guidance: Consult with an estate planning attorney who understands digital assets and can help you draft a legally sound will that includes them.

As technology evolves, including digital assets in your estate planning is essential. By taking proactive steps to protect your digital footprint, you ensure that the handling of your online presence goes according to your wishes, providing peace of mind for you and your loved ones in the digital age. The experienced team at McCutchen McLean, LLC, can help. Contact them today to schedule a free legal consultation.

Writing a Will: Your Most Important New Year’s Resolution

writing a will

As the new year unfolds, it’s time to prioritize a task that most people try to avoid: writing a will. In South Carolina, as in many places, estate planning is the best way to protect your family after you’re gone. It’s not just about distributing your assets; it’s about ensuring the future security and peace of mind for your loved ones.

The Importance of Writing a Will

The new year presents a perfect opportunity to take the leap into writing a will if you’ve been in denial or avoidant about it. The start of a new year is symbolic of new beginnings and resolutions. It’s a time to focus on what truly matters, and there’s nothing more significant than safeguarding your family’s future.

Estate planning in SC can be complex. This is where the expertise of a lawyer becomes invaluable. A lawyer can help navigate the nuances of state laws, ensuring your will is legally binding and reflective of your wishes. They can provide guidance on difficult decisions, such as appointing a guardian for your children or allocating your assets. A lawyer’s involvement brings professionalism and thoroughness that is difficult to achieve on your own.

Writing a will with a lawyer can prevent future disputes among family members. It can also help minimize the likelihood of an argument or contestation over your will. It’s not just about what you leave behind, but providing clarity and peace of mind to your loved ones.

As you list your resolutions for the new year, place “writing a will” at the top. With a lawyer’s aid, estate planning in South Carolina is a proactive step toward protecting your family’s future. Don’t let another year pass without ensuring the care of your legacy and loved ones. Get started by contacting the experienced and compassionate legal team at McCutchen McLean, LLC today.

Protect Your Assets and Your Loved Ones

Protect your assets

You don’t have to be exceptionally wealthy or have a portfolio chock full of assets to incorporate a trust into your estate planning. A trust isn’t a fancy legal situation only for top tier earners. It’s a fiduciary agreement that allows an individual to assign the administration of their estate to a trustee who works on behalf of the family and beneficiaries to ensure the agreement remains intact and followed. In short, it’s your best bet for asset protection and to protect your loved ones. Here are the other benefits of trusts.

Avoiding Probate

A will details a person’s wishes after their death, including who gets what regarding money, belongings, and even assets. However, a will must go through the probate process, which can take months as it works through the probate court system. A trust does not need to go through probate because it’s a private legal contract. This allows for expeditious distribution of assets.

Tax Advantages

An irrevocable trust has tax advantages for your beneficiaries. Any inheritance within a certain range is subject to a gift tax. However, most inheritance from an irrevocable trust is not, which can save your loved ones thousands of dollars, allowing them to keep what you left for them.

Customization Opportunities

A trust allows you to customize when and how your family inherit money and assets from your estate when you’re gone. Things like reaching a certain age, what the beneficiaries can use the money for, the amount distributed and when, and limited or timed distribution. For example, these parameters can include reaching 18 years old, only using the money for college tuition, and only distributing the wealth in small increments annually.

For the best asset protection and to protect your loved ones, don’t wait until it’s too late! Contact McCutchen McLean, LLC, to schedule your consultation to start planning your trust.

Contract Review: 3 Key Parts

Contract review

Estate planning might be more emotional and personal than many other legal agreements, but the contracts are just as critical. Here are three things to look for during the contract review stage of any contract, including estate planning.

#1: Check the Dates and Deadlines

Check and double-check any dates and deadlines listed in the contract. While contracts are sometimes open for revision, estate planning has a unique situation where many, if not all, the elements remain unexecuted until after you or your loved one’s death. So, make sure the dates and deadlines are accurate now.

#2: Terms and Key Clauses

Whether the estate plan is for you or a loved one and whether it’s a simple decree of one’s wishes or a comprehensive plan for distributing wealth and assets, ensure a review of each term and key clause. Spend the time you need to ensure they’re all accurate and reflect your desires for your estate.

#3: Clear Language

Can anyone read the contract and understand the basics of what it’s laying out? If the language is unclear or ambiguous, it could open the contract to interpretation or potential legal conflict. Clear, concise language enables accurate interpretation and execution of your or your loved one’s wishes without needing a third party or mediation to determine the next steps.

Contracts, by nature, are complex and often overwhelming documents, but careful review and consideration are a necessity. When working on estate planning, the last thing you want or need is more stress. For contract review help you can count on, contact the experienced legal team at McCutchen McLean LLC.

4 Tips to Help You Cope with a Family Member’s Difficult Diagnosis

Cope with a Difficult Diagnosis

No one is ever ready for a loved one to receive a diagnosis of a serious or terminal illness. It can make you feel untethered and out of control while it affects every aspect of your life. The ill family member will need significant care, but you can’t neglect yourself in the process. Here are four tips for coping with a difficult diagnosis.

Tip #1: Seek Counseling

Talking about how you feel is essential to helping you cope with the illness, treatment, and potential death of your loved one. From anger to denial, anticipatory grief to feeling overwhelmed, a counselor can help you work through the feelings and cope with what your loved one, and you are going through.

Tip #2: Spend Time Together

Now is the time to be with your loved one. Be open to communication, spend time focusing on connection, and talk about the things you’ve neglected. Talk about the treatment, the prognosis, and what comes after.

Tip #3: Set Up a Support Network

Whether your family member is seriously or terminally ill, you need a support network. Now is the time to circle the wagons. Call on friends and family to help with daily tasks, meals, doctor appointments, and care. Take time to be with friends and loved ones, and take small breaks from being a care giver. Let others help you.

Tip #4: Do the Practical Planning

No one wants to talk about planning for a loved one’s incapacitation or end of life. However, when a serious or terminal diagnosis occurs, that is the time to talk about it and create a plan to care for your loved one and your family. Advance care directives, power of attorney, and estate planning are never easy but don’t wait until it’s too late. The right way to care for them now and honor them when they’re gone is by ensuring handling the legal issues with their input and oversight.

If your family member has a serious or terminal diagnosis, coping can become a daily challenge. We’re here to help. Our compassionate and experienced legal team will work with you to create an estate plan to care for your loved one, you, and your family. Contact McCutchen McLean LLC today.

Reviews

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James McCutchen drafted our estate planning documents and he did a fantastic job. The entire process was easy and affordable. I highly recommend James for any of your estate planning or probate needs.

Angela

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James McCutchen helped me with my business contract for my new business venture. He was able to offer helpful and informative suggestions and recommendations for my contract. It is reassuring to have someone like James look over my contract to know that I will be covered. His service was outstanding and I highly recommend him for your legal needs!!

Travis

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I recently had a tax issue with the IRS. I called McCutchen McClean law firm and they were able to fit me in quickly. They sat down with me, reviewed all the documents, listened to my concerns, and gave me wonderful advice as to how to fix the issue. They were friendly and understanding. Now, my tax issue is resolved, taking a HUGE weight off my mind. I would recommend them for any tax issue you may have! The service, hospitality, knowledge, and professionalism was outstanding!

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We recently used James McCutchen and we could not be any happier! He was very kind, thorough when answering all of our questions and the best part of all we got everything completed pretty quickly. We highly recommend James. Thanks again for everything!

Abby

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I have referred several clients to them. My clients are very happy with the outstanding, timely service they receive. James and Robin are extremely smart and professional, yet speak in "plain english" so everyone walks away educated regarding their tax, estate or family law issue.

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Smart people that do great work.

Charles

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I used Robin McLean as an attorney to secure a divorce about 20 months ago. I found her to be efficient, reasonably priced, and very well skilled. I was completely happy with her work. She did what she said. Since that time, I needed additional help with paperwork and she responded promptly and to my complete satisfaction. I highly recommend Robin as an attorney.

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