A lot of people who walk into our offices to begin estate planning have little or no previous involvement with the law, courts, or lawsuits. For many of these people, the estate planning process itself can be an intimidating idea. Many of them are worried about going to court, and don’t know what to expect.
To help assuage some of these fears and help answer some of your concerns, we’ve put together this brief list of common questions people have about the role of court will play in your estate plan.
Question 1. How often will I have to go to court when I create an estate plan?
If you are like most people in the estate planning process, you will probably never have to go inside of a courtroom. Even though estate planning is a legal process, that doesn’t necessarily mean courts get involved.
Like other legal processes, such as signing contracts, there is no need for you to get court approval over the documents and tools you create as a part of the estate planning process. The process is simply something that allows you to make certain types of legal decisions in an enforceable manner. If something happens later on and someone needs to enforce your decisions on your behalf, that person might have to go to court. In other situations you might have to go to court if you want to challenge someone’s decisions or ask the court to make a ruling, but in most situations, courts don’t get involved when you create an estate plan.
Question 2. What about using a notary?
When you create an estate plan you will have to create a variety of legal documents. Many of these documents will require you to sign and notarize them. A notary is a licensed official who has the ability to notarize documents and take oaths. When you notarize a document, you go before a notary, prove your identity, and swear or affirm that the statements you make in the document are truthful.
Notaries are not courts, and are not there to declare that what you say in the document is accurate or legally binding. All they are there to do is to allow you to state that what you say in the document is true, and that you are who you say you are.
Question 3. What about estate litigation?
Estate litigation is a broad term that generally applies to any legal conflicts that might arise out of the estate planning process. Estate litigation can erupt for any number of reasons. If you have a question about estate litigation you need to call a lawyer for advice.