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estate tax

Tips for Talking to a Lawyer on the Phone

Almost everyone knows that you have a right to counsel if you've been charged with a crime. People will also be inclined to seek out a lawyer if they want to file a lawsuit, or if they're being sued. But, there are many other instances where a lawyer can be very helpful.For example, it's usually a good idea to consult with a lawyer while planning your estate because he or she can ensure that your estate plan is in compliance with your state's laws, and can advise you on how to reduce your estate taxes. But, how do you decide when to call an attorney? And how do you decide if the attorney you call is right for you? These are valid and important questions to ask yourself when you're thinking about hiring an attorney. Read on for some tips for talking to a lawyer on the phone. How Do I Find a Lawyer? If you have friends or family who have already used a lawyer (that they were happy with) in a similar legal matter, it's a good idea to ask them for the lawyer's contact information. But, maybe you don't feel comfortable asking someone you know for a lawyer recommendation because you want to keep your legal matter private. While recommendations are helpful, there are other ways to find a lawyer, including researching the attorney online. You can read reviews and it's also a good idea to research a lawyer's discipline record. The First Call Whether you found a lawyer through a recommendation or you found one through your own research, the first call can be very important. For this reason, it's important to be prepared for this conversation.First, you should have a list of questions ready to ask the lawyer, including questions about his or hers experience with legal matters such as yours. Second, you should have a fairly detailed summary of the legal matter that you're seeking counsel for. If you have any documentation related to your legal matter (such as a complaint you've been served), it's a good idea to have those documents in front of you.Finally, talking to a lawyer on the phone will help you to also get a feel for his or her personality, including the lawyer's ability to explain things clearly. Just remember that the initial conversation with a lawyer is not only the time for the lawyer to decide whether he or she wants to take the case, but also for you to decide if you want that particular lawyer for your legal issue. Related Resources: Find an Attorney Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Guide to Hiring a Lawyer (FindLaws' Learn About the Law) Should I Have an Annual Legal Checkup With a Lawyer (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 Reasons to Hire an Attorney Decades Before You Retire (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Legal How-To: Disclaiming an Inheritance

Although an inheritance of money, property, or other assets is often a welcome gift for the recipient, there are circumstances in which a person may want to disclaim a gift from another person's estate. For example, a person whose own estate may already be at or near the limit of the federal estate tax exemption may choose to disclaim an inheritance for tax purposes. Disclaimers may also be used to take advantage of martial deductions or to prevent a beneficiary's creditors from making a claim on property that he or she inherited. So how do you legally disclaim a gift or bequest made by another person' estate? Here's a general overview: How to Make a Qualified Disclaimer Under IRS rules, there are five requirements that a person must satisfy in order to disclaim an inheritance: The disclaimer must be irrevocable and unqualified. The disclaimer must be in writing. The disclaimer must be completed within nine months of the death of the person who left the bequest. The person making the disclaimer must not accept any benefit from the disclaimed property.The interest disclaimed must pass to someone else "without any direction on the part of the person making the disclaimer." If these conditions are satisfied, the property will pass as if the person making the disclaimer had predeceased the person making the gift. The disclaimed property will then pass to whoever is specified by the will, trust, or other instrument, or by the operation of law. The disclaimed property will also not be treated as a transfer or a gift by the person making the disclaimer. This allows the person making the disclaimer to avoid the tax issues that would otherwise be involved with accepting the inheritance and then giving the inherited property as a gift or transferring ownership to another individual. Need More Help? If you are dealing with a large or complicated inheritance, or need advice on whether a disclaimer is right for your situation, your best option may be to seek the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer. Are you facing a legal issue you'd like to handle on your own? Suggest a topic for our Legal How-To series by sending us a tweet @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #HowTo. Related Resources: Saying 'No Thanks' to a Bequest (The New York Times) Millionaire's Heirs Wait 92 Years for Inheritance (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Legal How-To: Omitting Relatives From Your Will (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Sign Up for Our Free Legal Planning Newsletter (FindLaw's Legal Heads-Up)
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