The legal idea of a statute of limitations is one that a lot of people have heard about. The basic concept of a statute of limitations is that it is a legal time limit. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for people outside of the legal profession to apply this idea to practical situations. When it comes to estate planning, the statute of limitations is not usually a significant issue, and not one you will likely have to worry about. Here’s why.
The Statute of Limitations
A statute is a law enacted by a legislature that creates some kind of legal rule, requirement, or prohibition. A statute of limitations, therefore, is a law that imposes limits. What kind of limits? In this kind of situation, it’s time limits. A statute of limitations is a law that places time limits on specific kinds of legal actions. Every state has its own statute, or statutes, of limitations that place different time limits on different types of activity.
For example, state statutes of limitations typically impose limits how long state prosecutors have to charge someone with a crime. Statutes of limitations also place limits on how long people have to file a lawsuit after they’ve been injured.
Statutes of Limitations and Estate Planning
Estate planning is not an area of the law that’s typically affected by statutes of limitations. When you create an estate plan, you and your attorney will sit down and make decisions about what you want to happen to you and your property in the future. Your plan will allow you to protect yourself should you become incapacitated, as well as protect you as you age, and allow you to prepare to distribute inheritances after you die.
The kinds of choices you make when you create an estate plan aren’t subject to the statute of limitations. As long as you are a mentally capable adult, you have the legal authority to create any kind of estate planning document you wish. There aren’t any time limits that apply, just the requirement that you be capable of making decisions.
Estate Planning and Estate Litigation
There is one area of estate planning that is affected by the statue of limitations: estate litigation. If you want to file a lawsuit, go to court, or are sued by someone else over an estate planning issue, the statute of limitations is something you will have to consider.
However, it isn’t always easy to determine what statute of limitations time limit applies to you and your circumstances. If you ever have a question about any estate litigation issue, you need to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.
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