Your Guide to Independent Contractor Agreement

Hiring independent contractors, rather than employees, can be beneficial for businesses. This is because you cannot control them as you do employees since they work as consultants and are self-employed. You save resources regarding training them and also don’t need to pay bonuses. However, you should document the independent contractor agreement carefully since they need to sign it to avoid issues with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The independent contractor agreement is very important if you contract the consultant to develop software, a product, a manual or book, or any other type of intellectual property.

As the contracting party, you need to document what rights you expect to retain with the end product so that the independent contractors cannot interfere with the intellectual product. However, you have to first understand what an independent contractor agreement is, along with things you consider when drafting it. So, what does this contract entail? This article highlights what an independent contractor agreement is, what you should consider when drafting it, and the guide to the contract. We have also addressed key tax and business issues you will encounter when dealing with consultants or independent contractors.

What Is an Independent Contractor Agreement?

An independent contractor agreement is basically a written contract between two parties for a specific project or service. It usually applies where a company or a person is hiring another to help on a short-term task or project. It differs from an employment agreement since it clearly spells out why the consultant or independent contractor is not an employee for tax and legal purposes.

The independent contractor agreement mainly addresses several elements. It specifies the hiring entity or person that may need special services in the short-term and establishes that there is no need for hiring them as an employee. It has to encompass a contractor who is the entity or person hired for a task or project. It must include the services offered. For services offered, the agreement should specify the task to be performed or delivered. It has to stipulate the compensation, which is how much the contractor will be paid. It includes the effective date which is when the agreement begins and when the job starts.

It has to specify the termination process. This is whether the hiring entity or person can end the relationship at any time. This is what is referred to as an “at will” contract.  It should also address the number of days a written notice is needed to end the contract. It also includes the fringe benefits, which specify that the contractor cannot participate in any of the hiring entity’s employee health, pension, sick pay, health, or any unemployment benefits. The entity can also hire its own assistants, but is solely responsible for the expenses like Medicare or Social Security taxes.

The contract may also be referred to as:

  • Company contractor agreement
  • Client/service freelancer agreement
  • Independent consultant agreement
  • Freelance contract
  • Freelancer agreement
  • Contractor agreement
  • Freelancer contractor agreement

Advantages and Disadvantages of Working with Independent Contractors

Working with independent contractors has a number of advantages, including:

  • You can use contractors for a project or task when needed
  • Contractors provide special expertise
  • You establish a flexible relationship with the contractor
  • You will cut on costs on tax contributions

However, it has its downsides, including:

  • You may end up paying high fees to the contractor
  • You do not have full control over the contractor
  • There is a chance you will run into tax problems
  • You cannot establish continuity in the relationship with contractors, instead, an employee here would be preferable

Things to Consider When Drafting Your Agreement

A good independent contractor agreement includes the following aspects:

1.Timing

The agreement needs to spell out when the services are to be performed. Here, the hiring entity should consider including a late-penalty fee if the services are not delivered in the documented time or when the product is delivered late.

2.Services

The contract spells out the services that the independent contractor will perform. Here, you should specify all the things that you expect to be done by the independent contractor so that he or she can be paid.

3.Reporting

The contract needs to spell out when progress reports should be made by the independent contractor and to whom he or she reports. You should be careful here not to have excessive control over the contractor since it could potentially lead to the identification of the contractor as an employee as far as tax is concerned.

4.Payment

The contractor expects to be paid but only if he or she delivers the product or services. The clause regarding payment in the contract should address the amount that the contractor will be paid, the manner in which he or she will be paid (per hour or per project), and when the payment is due. From the perspective of the hiring company, it should ensure that the product or service is of reasonable quality before being obligated to pay the entire amount. Otherwise, you do not have to pay until you’re satisfied with the work.

5.Subcontractors

If the contractor expects to use subcontractors, he or she should provide approval over them, and we recommend that they execute an appropriate contract with you.

6.Warranties

In the contract, you need to spell out any warranties from the contractor, including the contractor’s warranty that the services or product delivered should be of high-quality, timely, and professional.

7.Work for hire

The contract should stipulate that the work product that the contractor develops for the hiring company is considered a work for hire under the copyright laws and owned only by the hiring entity and not the contractor.

8.Confidentiality

The contract needs to clarify that the contractor must keep any proprietary information about the hiring company confidential and that the contractor will not use any information that the entity provides other than for the benefit of the hiring company.

Your Guide to an Independent Contractor Agreement

Protecting Your Interests

Prior to hiring an independent contractor, you have to first do a background check to establish whether the person is the right person to perform the job. If you want to verify the information that the person provides, have the person sign a background check just to make sure the information provided is accurate.

Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Contracts

Have the contractor or consultant sign a confidentiality agreement, especially if you run a tech-oriented firm since you’ll pass a significant amount of confidential information. Since the contract comes up with a product or business idea, it is your best interest to maintain ownership. In areas where you are sensitive about confidentiality and the company’s ownership of the product, ensure that the contractor or consultant signs the Confidentiality and Invention Assignment. This will ensure that the contractor doesn’t pass on confidential information and that the final product or idea belongs to the company, not the contractor.

Tax Considerations

Tax laws demand that you treat contractors and employees differently. Contractors are beneficial since you reduce the tax liability but you need to be careful to correctly fill out tax forms and agreements to avoid the IRS disagreeing with your assessment. For tax purposes, the following is required for independent contractors:

  • No Social Security contributions
  • No Medicare taxes contribution
  • No withholding of federal taxes
  • File Form 1099-MISC with IRS if you pay the contractor $600 or more per year
  • No compensation insurance
  • No contribution to unemployment insurance funds or taxes
  • No sick leave or holidays
  • No overtime payments
  • You do not have the right to control how the contractor works, what you’re interested in is the final product
  • You don’t have the right to control the business aspects of the worker’s activities

If the IRS determines that the contractor should have been classified as an employee, rather than a contractor, you may be penalized as follows:

  • Pay Medicare contributions that would have been withheld
  • Pay federal income tax that should otherwise be withheld from the employee
  • You’ll be penalized for failing to properly pay taxes and file tax returns
  • Criminal sanctions, you could be imprisoned or face fines up to $100,000
  • A larger penalty if it is established that you were negligent or fraudulent
  • Pay tax interest should have been withheld
  • Pay personal liability for corporate officers, up to 100% of the amount that would otherwise be withheld

Independent Contractor Tax Forms

IRS requires you to fill the following forms:

1. Form W-9: This requires you to collect Social Security numbers or the Employer Identification Number (EIN).
2. Form 1099-MISC: Once you pay the contractor $600 or more in a year, send the form to IRS and to the contractor at the end of the year.

Conclusion

It is vital for a business to first establish whether the person providing services is an independent contractor or employee so you understand if you have to withhold taxes, pay unemployment tax on wages, pay and withhold Social Security and Medicare tax, or provide benefits to this person. For independent contractors, you don’t have to withhold or pay any type of tax when working with them. When working with contractors, the hiring entity must first ensure that the person or company signs the independent contractor agreement.

The contract includes aspects like timing, services offered, reporting mechanisms, payment, subcontractors (if any are involved), warranties, work for hire, and confidentiality. For tax purposes, ensure you file with the IRS Form W-9 and Form 1099-MISC. We hope that this article has adequately addressed what an independent contractor agreement is, what you should consider when drafting it, and key tax and business issues involved.

Top 5 Things You Should Know About Constitutional Law

When we ask ourselves what kind of country we want to live in, one of the first thoughts we have is, “What should be allowed, and what shouldn’t?” In a nation that is governed by 23,000 pages of criminal law alone, how do we decide what laws we want to live by? It all comes down to what is written in the Constitution of the United States, and how it is interpreted through constitutional law.

What Is Constitutional Law?

No one can write a law that is in conflict with what the Constitution says, and that is where constitutional law comes in.

The Law of the Land

Constitutional law is the body of law that deals with interpreting the Constitution and applying its decrees to practice in real-life situations, some mundane and others extremely consequential. In the United States, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land.  It outlines what powers the different branches of government have, and what rights the citizens have. The Constitution has the final word in all questions of how our government and legal systems work – end of story.

Murky Waters

In the real world, however, there are arguments and differing opinions over specific aspects of the Constitution, and resolving them is not always as simple as dusting off the document and checking it to see which side is getting it right. Two people (or two areas of government, or two companies, or one person and the government, etc.) can read the same document, and each can think that the law is on their side.

Furthermore, there may seem to be contradictions within the Constitution itself, which can rouse questions about enforcing existing national, state, and local laws. New laws also have to be checked for constitutionality as well.

Constitutional law aims to untangle these questions and figure out what is in line with what the Constitution says and what is not. But, what does the Constitution say?

What Constitutes the Constitution?

The Constitution is invoked every day by pundits on cable news outlets, politicians on the campaign trail, and advocates arguing their stance on one issue or another. There is much more in the text than the commonly quoted bits and pieces that turn up so often in soundbites. Here is a quick rundown of what is covered in the constitution:

The Original Seven Articles

These form the bulk of the original document, drafted by the founders in 1787 and ratified by all of the original thirteen colonies by 1789.

Articles 1-3:

Articles 4-6:

Article 7:

A Living Document

Right from the get-go, the founders got to work adding amendments to the Constitution, and we have been adding more ever since with the latest amendment being ratified in 1992.

The first ten amendments to the Constitution are known collectively as the Bill of Rights. They restrict government power and guarantee specific rights to the population. The First Amendment, for example, guarantees freedom of religion and restricts government from imposing any religion on the population. Other amendments in the Bill of Rights address gun ownership, the right to a speedy trial by jury, and protection against unwarranted search and seizure.

The remaining seventeen amendments can be grouped into three main categories:

Expansion of civil rights:

There are amendments outlawing slavery, guaranteeing women's suffrage, and abolishing Jim Crow policies.

Government processes and procedures:

These address questions of how the government will go about its business and deal with things like term limits and what happens if the President is unable to carry out his or her duties.

Governmental authority:

The eighteenth amendment, banning alcohol sales in the United States (the only one to be repealed), is included here, as well as others dealing with the reach of government authority.

The Need for Constitutional Law

Clearly, there is a lot to untangle in the Constitution. To further complicate the issue, the original document was signed into law well over 200 years ago. Inevitably, situations are going to arise that cause confusion about how best to apply the letter of the law, and inevitably, there will be lawyers involved.

How to Apply the Constitution?

There are five main approaches to figuring out how best to apply the Constitution.

Look at the Text: Ideally, all you need to do is read the text and do what it says. You may need to get around some old-fashioned language and follow some complicated thought processes, but otherwise, hopefully, the answer is in the document.

Structure and Logic: Sometimes, it is helpful to consider an individual amendment in the context of the entire constitution. For example, the eighteenth and twenty-first amendments only make sense if you consider that one repealed the other. Further, if there is any lack of clarity around one of the first ten amendments, consider that as part of the Bill of Rights, it is there to enshrine the rights of citizens.

Original Intent: The question of what the Founding Fathers originally intended when writing a part of the Constitution is a common, and complicated, dilemma. It is a useful question to the extent that their intention can help clarify the law itself, but it can be difficult to find the line between what they may have had on their mind, but still chose not to enshrine into law, and what they intended the words that they actually did enshrine into law to mean. For example,  if an amendment states that “any person has equal protection under the law” even though, at the time, many did not wish for women to have equal protection under the law, it may be true that many would not have wished the law to include women, thinking that “person” would be understood to refer to men only. However, the word that they chose to write was “person,” (and not “man” or “male”), which even then could be understood to include women. Therefore, we cannot say that the law should not apply to women;  they chose the word “person,” and that is what we go by.

Precedent: Here you would look at what has already been decided by previous courts and apply that decision to another situation. Precedents and the thought processes behind them can shed a lot of light on the issue at hand, but should never supersede what is actually written in the Constitution.

Policy: The question here is, “What impact will this have on the real world?” This approach is a bit tricky, as here you begin with the result that you want, and try to make it work within the Constitution. This should be the last approach, taking a back seat to an impartial reading of what the document says.

Top 5 Things You Should Know About Constitutional Law

There Is Always an Issue:

At any given time, there are plenty of important issues being worked out nationally, and one way to set policy is through the courts. Look no further than the cases involving money in politics, LGBT civil liberties, and religious freedom, or the debate about online file sharing.

Court Cases Matter:

A lot of important court cases involving the constitutionality of certain laws have shaped our policy for years and affect our lives today. Here are a few you may know: Roe Vs. Wade, in 1973, held that women have a constitutional right to choice; and Miranda Vs. Arizona, in 1966, gave us the “Miranda Rights” by guaranteeing that citizens are informed of their right against self-incrimination.

But Some Are Boring:

Take Fischer vs St. Louis (1896), about milk distribution; or Northwestern States Portland Cement Co. Vs. Minnesota (1959), about interstate tax laws. No offense, constitutional law professors.

It’s Not All About the Supreme Court:

While commonly regarded as the branch that interprets the Constitution and the place we should bring constitutional matters to be decided, the Supreme Court is not the sole guardian of our Constitution. Each branch of government is equally responsible to abide by the Constitution as they see fit, independent of the others, and nowhere in the Constitution itself does it say that the Supreme Court innately has more authority to interpret the law than the others. In fact, not only are all three branches of government bound by this responsibility but...

It's In Your Hands:

As citizens, we too have the authority to interpret the Constitution. The point is made explicitly in the first three words of the document itself, “We the People.” It is our right and responsibility to uphold the law of the Constitution by voting, jury duty, political advocacy, and all forms of civic participation.

So Get Out There!

The Constitution is one of the most important documents in our nation and guarantees us our rights and liberties. It is the backbone of our legal system, outlines how our government should work, and tells us who has the power to do what. If you have something to say about the Constitution, say it! You can get informed by viewing the Constitution itself here: https://www.usconstitution.net/const.pdf

How Does Bail Work: Understanding Your Rights

Being arrested is a likely scenario for many, especially with the increased vigilance of the law enforcement agencies. If it happens, you do not want to stay in jail as this will ground your day-to-day activities. This is why many people’s first thought upon landing in jail is about getting out. One way of doing so is by posting a bail. This is security to ensure you appear in court proceedings until the final judgment. So how does bail work? This content highlights what a bail is and how it works.

What Is Bail?

A bail is a bond, a cash, or property that an arrested individual gives to a court of law to ensure that he or she appears in court if needed. If you don’t show up, the court keeps the bail and issues a warrant of arrest. How does bail work? For you to answer this question, you have to first know about the types of bails. There are five types of bails.

1. Cash Bail

This is where the accused pays the full amount of bail in cash. Sometimes, the court can accept a credit card or even checks.

2. Surety Bond

How does bail work when you opt for a surety bond? A surety bond is also referred to as a bail bond and can be used for any amount of bail. However, it is especially useful when the accused cannot afford to pay the bail. It involves a relative or a friend of the accused contacting a bail agent, also referred to as a bail bondsman. The bail bondsman bails the accused after receiving a collateral. In addition, the bail bondsman typically must be paid a commission of the bond. However, the bail agent risks the full bond if the defendant does not appear in court for proceedings on the required date.

3. Release on Citation

Sometimes, an officer does not book the suspect at all but will instead issue a citation that says the accused must appear in court on a particular date. This process is less thorough compared to taking the suspect to a police station and performing the normal booking procedure.

4. Property Bond

How does bail work when paying with a property? Some instances will need the defendant to provide property, which acts like a bond. Here, the court gets a lien on the property in the amount of the bail. If the accused doesn’t appear in court, it forecloses on the property to recover the bail.

5. Release on Own Personal Recognizance (O.R.)

  • The judge may also release the accused on O.R., which implies that he or she shows up on the arranged court date and doesn’t have to pay bail. This is applicable when the charge is a minor, nonviolent crime and when the accused is not a danger to others or a flight risk. Flight risk is when a person is likely to flee and not appear for the court proceedings.
    A defendant released on O.R. signs a promise to show up in court. This usually happens at the first court appearance. If the judge denies the request, then the accused asks for a low bail. Factors that can convince a judge to grant O.R. release include:
  • You have family members, including parents, a spouse, or children living in the community
  • You have lived in the community for many years
  • You’re employed
  • You have no criminal record
  • You have been charged before but have always appeared as required

What Is a Bail Bondsman?

So how does a bail work when you don’t have money to post bail? This is where you need to seek the services of a bail bondsman. A bail bondsman is also known as a bailer or bail agent. It is the person who provides bail as a surety for a criminal defendant’s release. The bail bondsman is covered by a special insurance company called a surety company that pledges to pay the full amount of a surety body if the accused does not appear in court. In return, the bail agent charges the client a 10% premium and collects collateral, for example, a car or boat, a title to a house, electronics, or jewelry.

By getting the relative or friend involved, the bail agent hopes that the defendant feels compelled to appear in court since the relative or friend will pay the bail agent’s premium and has collateral. The bail bondsman’s bond is also at stake and if the accused does not appear in court, which is referred to as jumping or skipping bail, then it is the agent responsible for paying the entire bond. If the accused jumps bail, the bail bondsman might seek a bounty hunter, but only if it is legal in that state.

Commercial bail bonding is illegal in some states including Oregon, Illinois, Kentucky, and Wisconsin. In other states, the bail bondsman needs to be licensed.

How Does Bail Work?

So how does bail work? A bail works by releasing the defendant in exchange for an agreed amount of money that the court holds until all the court proceedings are complete. The court, by offering the bail, hopes that the defendant shows up for all court trials on specified dates in order for them to recover the bail.

Court trial typically starts weeks or months after the initial arrest. You don’t want to spend all that time in jail, so posting a bail is the most viable option for you. Therefore, if not for a bail, many individuals, some of whom may be innocent, would have to wait in jail until the trials begin. This inconveniences the defendant endures can be a source of financial hardship since the person cannot work. Besides, the individual will also miss a lot in his or her life, such as holidays and family events.

Not everyone is eligible for bail, particularly dangerous suspects or a person who has been linked to criminality before. This implies that not all persons released on bail are acquitted, and thus, to prevent dangerous suspects from being released, the court implements these safeguards.

Bail Process

How does bail work and what is the bail process? If you are arrested, you will first be taken to a police station to be processed or booked. When you’re booked, a police officer on duty records information about you as the suspect. This includes personal information, such as the birthday, name, address, and appearance along with the alleged crime.

Then the police officer will conduct a criminal background check by taking your fingerprints and a mugshot and then seizes and inventories any personal property. The property is returned when you’re being released. You are also checked for intoxication and required to make a phone call to inform your family member of the arrest. You are then put in a cell, typically with other recently booked suspects.

When you have committed less serious crimes, you may be allowed to post bail immediately after being booked. If you cannot post bail immediately, you must wait (less than 48 hours) for a bail hearing. The judge then determines whether you are eligible for posting bail and at what cost. The bail amount depends on the severity of the crime but is also dependent upon the judge. Some jurisdictions have a standard bail amount. For instance, Los Angeles recommends $25,000 for sexual assault or perjury, $1,000,000 for kidnapping and intending to rape, and $100,000 for manslaughter.

However, the judge also considers the defendant’s criminal record and the history of showing up for past court proceedings, if any. The judge may also look into the defendant’s ties to the community, whether the suspect can harm others or any other considerations that may be raised by the attorney. Sometimes, bail can be waived altogether.

Conclusion

Our main goal was to address the question of how bail works. A bail is considered a bond, a cash, or property a defendant gives to a court of law to ensure that he or she appears in court proceedings.

There are different types of bonds. Cash bail is when the accused pays the full amount of bail in cash. Surety bonds entail securing the services of a bail bondsman and are useful when the accused cannot afford to pay the bail. A person can also be released on a citation. This is applied when the officer does not book the suspect but will instead issue a citation that says the accused must appear in court on a particular date. You can also be released via property bond where the property acts like a bond. Last, they may release you on O.R. where the judge releases the accused on his own recognizance.

A bail is important as it works by securing a person’s release, if arrested, in exchange for an agreed amount of money that the court holds until all the court proceedings associated with the case of the accused individual are complete. This way, you get to resume your day-to-day activities. We hope that this article has adequately answered the query, “how does bail work?”

Will You Need A Probate Lawyer? And Other Questions Answered

There are so many possessions that have to be dealt with upon a person’s death. The deceased person's bank accounts, credit cards, property, vehicles, debt, jewelry, everything has to be accounted for and properly distributed to the heirs of his or her estate. A probate lawyer can be a great help to a surviving family in grief when it is time to deal with the legal ramification of property, debt, and possession post-mortem.

Will or No Will

A decedent is a person who has died. An executor is a rightful heir and decision maker for the estate of the decedent. An administrator is the person in charge of the affairs of the decedent estate when there was no will drafted. If a living will was established, the probate process will be much less painful than if there was no will.

When someone dies with a will, the estate or probate lawyer can be contracted to advise the heirs on their legal rights and how the probate process works. The lawyer should be able to verify critical facts, for instance, ensuring that the deceased was not under duress at the time that he or she drafted the living will.

Intestate is the status of a deceased person that did not have a signed will for the surviving family members, heirs, and attorneys to use in probate. Each state has its own intestacy laws regarding property, no matter what the deceased wishes. Typically, under most states' intestacy laws, the surviving spouse receives all property and assets.

Other family members may hire a trust lawyer to contest this if the spouse was estranged or not deemed fit to heir these possessions. Without contest, whether the administrator of the estate hires a lawyer or not, the assets and property will be distributed according to the particular state law.

Without a living will, an estate administrator will need to procure renunciations from other proposed heirs to the estate. These renunciations are agreements from the other heirs that they legally release their rights to administer to the estate, and the administrator will carry on the business of the estate solely and fairly. An administrator may also choose to hire a lawyer at this stage to file their renunciation statements with the state probate court. From here a lawyer will also assist with the administration of estate probate processes like securing and appraising property, paying debts, clearing debts, managing estate funds, etc.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the process of distributing assets and property to the descendants of the deceased. Part of the probate process is clearing debt, paying taxes and managing liquid assets on behalf of the estate, the estate heirs and beneficiaries. The more valuable an estate is the more likely you are to have a probate lawyer allocate those estate possessions.

What Is a Probate Lawyer?

A probate lawyer is an attorney that handles estate planning, wills, and legal manners concerning an estate of a deceased person.

When to Use a Probate Lawyer?

Sometimes things get messy in probate, especially with large estates. A good estate lawyer can clean up that mess and protect the rightful heirs. Many people are not aware of how many claims are made in probate court against any estate. Sometimes creditors are not as forgiving as one would expect in times of death and they have the legal right to file a claim against an estate to recuperate the entirety of their debt. These things are foreign to most layperson so the administration of a trust lawyer is advised in those instances. The goal of the heirs and the estate lawyer should be to fulfill the wishes of the deceased.

For the Living

While living, you should hire an estate lawyer to draft a legal will according to your specifications. This will help your heirs when you become a decedent by creating a legal document permissible in probate court that is unlikely to be challenged. Sometimes family members are not all on one accord, a lawyer can reduce the friction of having to decide who gets what when it is time to divide the family possessions.

Probate is usually a slow process. With so many possessions to account for, document, and assess, the process can last well over a year. An effective lawyer will alleviate all the obstacles that stand in the way of the decedent wishes being carried out in probate court.

Many questions will arise during the probate process and the court clerks are not always as helpful as one would like them to be. When you have a probate lawyer, they will get all of your questions answered, either from their experience in the field or by leveraging their relationship with the court and its clerks to offer you the answers you seek. A good lawyer will walk you through the details of the process so he or she is sure you understand all things occurring during the probate process.

All the filing and technical details will be the lawyer's job to inform and explain to you, while handling them for you. Mistakes get made and you do not want to extend the long and stressful probate process by making those mistakes in your time of grief. You are paying the lawyer to file all the proper paperwork without making the mistakes that cost time and resources.

As an Executor

As an executor or administrator of an estate you have to continue to handle your personal business while making sure the business of the decedent does not interfere with the probate process. Your lawyer will be used in this instant to pay bills, settle debt, and clear taxes. According to probate laws, an estate has a designated amount of time to settle debt. Your lawyer should ensure that you meet all these deadlines.

Your lawyer will also protect you as an executor or administrator of an estate from getting sued by your fellow beneficiaries. A lawyer cannot prevent a lawsuit directly, but by making sure you are on top of the details in the probate process, the chances of getting served with a lawsuit are minimal.


How to Hire a Probate Lawyer

  • When hiring a service as vital to your family as a probate lawyer, you should first ask friends and family for a referral
  • If you do not get a contact from your circle of influence you should do a google search and only value sites that offer customer testimonials
  • Google itself has a 5 star system and comments from customers, however, Google is not usually abundant with ratings
  • Facebook pages: If you are very precocious you can message some of the people that left reviews and ask them about their experience with the particular lawyer
  • Avvo is also a quality resource in your search for a qualified and experienced probate lawyer


How to Avoid Probate

In some rare occasions you can plan your estate to prevent having to go through the probate process. In many instances this will require an estate or trust lawyer. However, these options are not available for the heirs of an estate. If you want to save your family time, money, and energy, choose from the list below when completing your estate planning:

  • Make all of your property joint ownership- when a person dies the property will automatically transfer to joint owners of property
  • Assign your beneficiaries for assets such as life insurance, bank accounts, retirement funds, and investments
  • Obtain a living trust, which protects property from having to enter into probate and passes it directly to whoever you designate


Conclusion

The probate process can be long, drawn out, and emotionally draining. You can outsource this work to a lawyer who will provide experienced counsel and carry out your wishes concerning your estate. A probate lawyer is not a necessity, however, a probate lawyer can save you a lot of time in probate court and take a load of stress from your shoulders.

Whether you are estate planning for your family after you are no longer here or if you are the executor of an estate and want to make sure you do right by your family, it is a good call to consult with a probate lawyer. Some estate lawyers can give you enough guidance in one consultation for you to be able to hire them or have the steps to plan your will, estate, or distribute the assets to your family without using legal representation. Every family is different, and each has its own nuances.

Take these into account and decide whether you want to deal with probate on your own or hire that work out to a trained and certified professional. The fees associated with hiring a competent and experienced lawyer can greatly outweigh the time and energy the probate lawyer saves you. Look through our website for more tips on hiring lawyers for your specific needs.