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Divorce is not always easy because there are so many legalities involved in the process. Child custody, property settlements and parental responsibilities are some of the legal issues that come into the picture when getting a divorce. It can be mentally and emotionally taxing and the last thing you want to do is struggle with the process. A divorce lawyer comes in handy during this trying phase of your life. The divorce attorney represents and guides you through the process, making it easier for you to handle. But to enjoy a smooth process, you must find yourself a reliable attorney.

1. Talk to friends and relatives

2. Know what your needs are

3. Do your research

4. Create a budget

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I am a do-it-yourselfer. I love working around my house: Painting, building, and even stuccoing. But there are exceptions, like plumbing. I hate plumbing.

One thing I have learned about my handyman hobby is that I should expect to buy twice the building materials that I should need to complete the project. Experience tells me that I will use all of those materials. My habit is to try to build the first time, fail, and then to try it again. Almost invariably, I will end up building or fixing up the same thing at least twice -- once or twice for practice, and then "for real."

Some who would never consider fixing a garage door or stuccoing a wall would unthinkingly prepare a will or trust using many materials found in bookstores. Bookstores abound with quick-fix be-your-own-lawyer books and CDs, featuring forms and fill-the-blank forms and programs for wills, trusts, and powers of attorney for healthcare decisions. Some of these materials are even state specific, offering different provisions for residents of different states.

Some of these do-it-yourself materials are fine, and may even be useful. If correctly used, many of these forms might work for a do-it-yourselfer. But suppose your case is different? Suppose you fail to properly use the form?

One thing I have noticed about building materials is that the old rule of thumb generally applies: you get what you pay for. The same is true in estate planning. But it is also true that legal documents such as wills and trusts oftentimes do not "speak" until the author is deceased or incapacitated. Because of this fact, in the case of estate plans the handyman analogy of buying double the building materials breaks down. If a wall is improperly built, it can be torn down and redone. But if a will is improperly drafted, or if it fails to state the intent of the author, there is often no opportunity for a second try. Rather, in many cases, when the author of the will or trust is incapacitated or deceased, the planning "solution" either fails, or has completely unexpected and unwanted consequences.

Still, to be a good consumer of legal services, self-education is essential in communicating needs to an estate planning professional. The following is an overview of some of the major estate planning topics that should be applicable in most states.

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Whither Will or Trust?

Like anything, there are pros and cons when choosing between a will and a trust. Most of the pros and cons relate to cost:

  • Wills are generally less expensive than trusts to prepare. Trusts are usually more extensive documents, and require property transfers when "funding" them.
  • Trusts are usually less expensive to administer than wills. However, probating a will can be expensive, depending upon the size of the estate. While there are costs associated with trust administration, it is usually less expensive than filing a petition to probate a will.

Depending upon the circumstance, trusts can provide similar benefits as certain types of conservatorships. If a settlor becomes unable to handle his or her own affairs, the successor trustee can step in and make the necessary decisions to manage the settlors' financial affairs. Wills do not offer this benefit. However, if a person suffers from dementia, for example, a conservatorship "of the person" may still be necessary.

There are benefits to each approach. Also, the law governing wills and trusts may vary from state to state. You should consult with a competent estate planning attorney to choose the right approach for you.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not legal advice, and the use of it does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any liability that might arise from your use or reliance on this article or any links from this article is expressly disclaimed. This article is not to be acted upon as if it were legal advice, and is subject to change without notice, or may include obsolete or dated information, or information not relevant to your jurisdiction. If you require legal services, you should consult with an attorney.

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Every divorce case must be filed with a court and is given a case number, docket number or identification number. Many types of issues are contained in the document such as assets of the couple, children, support payments, alimony payments and more. Things even appear such as pets, possessions and more! The cases that a court receives are setup for trial which often clogs up the system. Many times the trial is never reached and settled instead which saves all parties thousands of dollars according to some lawyers that we spoke to.

The definition of a contested divorce is where there are unresolved matters between the two parties involved. This could be anything and what is being said is basically "I do not agree with these terms." So in this case the divorce is not finalized and must go to trial.

An uncontested divorce is one where both sides are in total agreement on the divorce and all matters related to the divorce. This sometimes happens but is quite rare as there is so much emotion along with money involved. Sometimes couples separate amicably and do not want to cause pain to the children they have so they opt for the quickest easiest solution which is the uncontested divorce.

Since the idea of divorce is such a major life affecting issue, it is important to thoroughly think about all the angles, and lives involved especially if you have children. These times cannot be erased and anything done or said will remain with you forever. Besides the massive cost of divorce, the emotional toll is far reaching and great. Talk to a counselor, friend or family member to ensure this is the best possible decision. With almost 50% of couples divorcing, it is very hard to be on the winning side. You must prepare yourself and lean on friends, family and colleagues to get through this emotional time in life.


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