In this clip, Host Zack Spencer and Wills and Estates Lawyer Elyssa Lockhart and Estate Litigation Lawyer Leah Donaldson discuss what is Estate Law versus Estate Litigation, and why it is important to get your will right the first time in order to avoid future disputes among family members and loved ones.
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How much money is set to transfer from one generation to the next? We have the Baby Boomers are getting older now and they have acquired a lot of money through assets like real estate, how much money are we talking here?
And, when there’s trillions at play, that’s when the fights begin, right?
That’s when the fights begin. That’s when the documents need to tight and clear and sometimes plentiful, hopefully not. Hopefully we can do something fairly simple for clients to structure them so that everybody understands what’s going to happen and everybody agrees with what is about to happen after the passing. But, if that doesn’t work out, we have Leah.
That’s when you go to Court?
Okay. Interest in this is sort of separate. You’re the planning and then Leah is the side that goes to Court.
Why is it done that way?
Well, it wasn’t always done that way. I used to be a litigator, I used to go to Court. But, my skillset is really talking with clients and drawing information out of them. I enjoy that. I enjoy the structuring of a deal. I enjoy looking at how an asset of a company, an asset of a family, might be moved from one hand to another without increasing tax obligations, minimizing strife between siblings. Sometimes one sibling is involved in running a family farm, or one siblings stays home and takes care of mom and dad in their waning years and the others go out and get to have their own lives, so to speak.
I look at how we can plan and that’s interesting to me. I feel that I can be helpful to client. I like working with clients while they’re going through that process. From the flip side, what Leah sees, is when a person didn’t understand the plan, or didn’t accept the plan. Then questions have to be answered. It’s just a different inquisitive part of the process.
And you see that’s when things go sideways in the Estate. That’s when people come forward and say, “I want my fair share” or “I’m not being represented” is that what you do?
Yes, absolutely. Usually it’s when there’s a conflict among family members. Where there’s some lack of clarity in some of the documents that Elyssa was talking about. It’s actually beneficial to have both departments. There’s definitely crossover, we discuss files all the time. They’re a great resource that we can draw on to learn more about the planning side of it. But definitely there is a set of court rules and processes by which we can negotiate or litigate, if necessary, that it’s its own special area of the law.
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