Things To Know Before Contesting a Will

Things to Know Before Contesting a Will

The loss of a loved one is an emotional and difficult time. Unfortunately, it can become even more overwhelming when a person’s last will and testament comes to light. If survivors feel that the allocation or assets does not reflect the deceased’s final wishes, there may be grounds for contesting a will. However, it can take a heavy emotional and financial toll. Here are a few things you should know before you spend time and money trying to challenge it.

How Do You Contest a Will?

You cannot contest a will simply because you do not like or agree with what it says. Before you can contest it, you need legal standing and be able to prove that the will is invalid. Only an heir or a named beneficiary can challenge it.

Although, anyone can review the terms if you believe there has been a mistake. Start by obtaining a copy of the document. The executor should be able to provide a copy of the current will and all previous versions that exist. Compare the documents and look for significant changes. You can check the complete list of assets to ensure nothing was overlooked as well. However, if the executor has not done due diligence, you can request a copy of the existing documents from the probate court.

If you are still suspicious after reviewing everything, discuss your situation with an attorney to see if you have a case. They will provide legal counsel and assess the validity of your claim. If you and your lawyer feel that there are enough grounds, the next step is legal action. Your attorney would file a contest against the will on your behalf. This litigation seeks to invalidate the will, but the burden of proof falls squarely on you. Depending on the specific circumstances, contesting a will can be a very long and expensive process.

When Should You Think about Contesting a Will?

The testator, or deceased person, has the right to will their inheritance based upon any belief or whim. They also have the right to change it at any point in time, for any reason. But, if you believe they changed the will under suspicious circumstances, try to clarify what happened that led to the decision.

In most instances, a contest is filed when someone is excluded from the will. Sometimes it is an heir or beneficiary who expected to be included, but was not. Other times it happens if the testator discussed changes prior to their death but never officially amended the document. Either way, it is a good idea to seek professional advice before filing any paperwork.

It is no small undertaking to contest a will, so it is not a decision that you should make lightly. Of all cases presented to probate court, only about 0.5% to 3% of will contests are successful. So, you should prepare yourself for an uphill battle from the start. You must also look at the practicality of taking action from a financial standpoint as well. Does the potential gain outweigh the legal and emotional cost?

If the answer is yes, there are time sensitive steps for contesting a will. The rules and timelines concerning a last will and testament vary state to state. These are determined based on where the testator lived at time of death. Time frames range from a few months to a few years. So, you will need to verify local laws if you want to pursue legal action.

What are the Grounds for Contesting a Will?

If you believe the last will and testament does not reflect the person’s true intentions, you must prove it in a court of law. However, there are certain criteria to meet before you can contest a will.

1. The will does not meet state regulations or the testator did not sign it in accordance to state laws.

Although you probably assume that documents prepared by an estate lawyer satisfy all legal formalities, it is not always the case. In fact, failure to follow state regulations is the most common way to invalidate a will. Each state sets very specific rules to determine what constitutes a valid will and testament. If the document does not meet all requirements, the courts cannot uphold it.

2. The will was signed under coercion, fraud, or diminished mental capacity.

These cases of often the most difficult to prove and endure. You must have hard evidence on your side as well. In these instances, you must prove the deceased did not have the mental faculties to understand what was happening or was unduly influenced to make changes. Since they cannot speak for themselves, courts must rely on the testimony of those present when the testator signed the will. Unless you have concrete proof, you may not have grounds to contest.

3. The terms of the will are unclear.

In order for a document to qualify as a last will and testament, it must clearly indicate the writer’s intention. If there is any shred of doubt, the probate court can invalidate it.

 4. Heirs of beneficiaries disagree with asset distribution.

Lastly, an heir or beneficiary can contest a will if they disagree with the asset distribution. They may have standing if they are entitled to a larger portion of the estate or have been taken out of the will by mistake. However, be wary of no contest clauses. Under this clause, you would inherit nothing should you challenge the will and lose.

What are the Alternatives to Contesting a Will?

Before taking any legal action, you may want to look for other avenues to pursue, especially if your case is difficult to prove. Mediation may be a better alternative than an expensive and drawn-out court battle. You are more likely to find a satisfying resolution and avoid the legal fees of prolonged litigation as well.

There may be other options as well that allow you to completely bypass a will contest. Depending on the claim on the estate, there may be other ways to obtain it. For instance, you may be able to claim compensation for unpaid work.

However, if you have no legal grounds to contest the will, it may be better to walk away. The bitterest estate fights often cost more in legal fees than the entire value of the inheritance. If the estimated amount is too low to cover the retainer, don’t spend precious time and energy to fight a losing battle.

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How to Financially Prepare for a Teen Driver

How to Financially Prepare for a Teen Driver

As of next month, we will have a new teen driver in our household. For most 16-year-olds, getting their driver’s license is an important rite of passage. However, it also brings a whole new set of concerns for parents and guardians. In addition to all the safety concerns of having a teen driver, there are also considerable financial ones as well. Before letting your child get behind the wheel, it is important that they are prepared for both the safety and financial responsibilities that come with driving.

Insurance Costs for a Teen Driver

It makes sense that adding a younger driver to your insurance plan will increase rates. Unfortunately, many adults do not fully comprehend just how much of an impact it will have on their wallets. According to recent data, insurance rates increase approximately 130-140% when you put a teen driver on your policy. While you may consider separate policies to avoid raising your premiums, it is still cheaper to keep your child on the family’s plan.

The good news is that there are several ways to save money and garner discounts for teen drivers. For example, many insurance providers offer discounts to teens who complete a Driver’s Ed course or maintain good grades. You should also carefully consider what kind of car your child will drive if they plan to have their own vehicle. Although he or she may have an eye on newer and sportier models, they also come with higher insurance premiums as well.

Covering the cost of insurance is an important aspect of car ownership. So my family has always included new drivers in this discussion and expected them to contribute to the monthly costs. Not only does it help teens understand the financial obligations, but also the increased responsibility that is being entrusted to them. In my family, taking over the insurance payments signified that the new driver was mature enough to accept the burden of responsibility as well. Because as my dad always reminded me, driving is a privilege, not a right.

Preparing Your Teen with Driver’s Ed

Another considerable expense is the Driver’s Ed course. While the cost varies from state to state, it typically ranges between $200-$800. Here in Nebraska, we are looking at a total cost of about $400. Although it is not required, it is still a wise investment for the insurance discount alone. However, there are also several other advantages for both parents and new drivers.

Sometimes parents and family members are not the most effective teachers. While you may be very knowledgeable, hearing the information from an objective outsider may have more of an impact. When you sign up for these courses, your teen driver will learn all the rules and hazards of the road in addition to getting driving experience from a professional instructor. Not only will Driver’s Ed save you money on insurance, but it will also teach your teen how to avoid costly accidents.

Choose the Best Car for a Teen Driver

If your child wants their own vehicle, you must discuss who will be paying for the car. Buying a car is an important financial lesson for any young adult. It also provides an opportunity to show them how to budget and determine what they can afford.

Although every teenager would love a new set of wheels, it is not always practical. It may be better to share the family car at first, especially if they cannot afford their own. However, there are plenty of reliable used vehicles available, if you know what to look for. Of course, price is not the only factor. You should look for a safe, modern car with a clean vehicle history. Choosing a fuel efficient model will also save your teen gas money. When buying a vehicle, it is important to find something that fits your safety and financial needs.

Car Maintenance and Repair

The financial burden of a car goes far beyond the initial purchase. Another important responsibility is the maintenance and upkeep of the vehicle. Before they can even drive it, you must pay for tags, title, licensing of the car. Then, you have the monthly cost of fuel, inspections, oil changes, tires, and any other repairs and maintenance costs to consider.

Preparing for a new driver has been the perfect time for our teen to establish an emergency fund. Although any financial expert will advise you to keep a rainy day fund, she earmarked this money specifically for driving purposes. It could be used to cover any unexpected expenses that come up, such as damage or repairs not covered by the insurance policy. The fact that she is planning ahead shows that she is ready to accept the responsibilities that come with the freedom of driving.

Reduce Costs with Safe Driving

The best way to prepare for a teen driver and reduce the associated costs is by teaching them how to be safe. Studies show that 16 and 17-year-old drivers are at the greatest risk for a serious accident. This is largely due to a lack of experience and the inability to anticipate dangers while driving. Driver’s Ed is a great introduction. But, continued practice is the best way to avoid accidents and minimize unnecessary vehicular expenses.

Even after your teen gets their license, be sure to reinforce the fundamentals of driving. It is also crucial to discuss the safety features of the car and the importance of wearing a seatbelt. Ensuring that they regularly check the condition of the car and fluid levels could prevent a serious or fatal collision.

In addition to state laws, you should establish household rules and enforce consequences if they are broken. It is also a good idea to prepare them for higher insurance premiums if they have any accidents or tickets.

Turning over the keys to a teen driver is a huge bode of confidence. Not only does it show that you trust them behind the wheel, but that you also believe your child is ready for the financial responsibility that goes along with it.

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How to Calculate Celebrity Net Worth

People love celebrity gossip. So, it’s no wonder so many people want to know about their net worth as well. There are many sites specifically dedicated to just this question. Some have even developed their own algorithms to calculate celebrity net worth. While the basic equation is the same, there are a few issues to contend with when comparing celebrity net worth.

How to Calculate Celebrity Net Worth

How Do You Calculate Net Worth?

You can figure your own net worth with some simple math. First, you need to add up the total value of your assets. You should include all your bank and retirement accounts, investments, real estate, and cash holdings.

Then, you need to calculate your liabilities, and subtract it from the total. Every debt, loan, and mortgage in your name would qualify as a liability. Once you subtract your liabilities from your assets, you are left with your net worth.

What’s Different to Calculate Celebrity Net Worth?

Contrary to what you might believe, you would calculate celebrity net worth the same as anyone else’s. First, you tally up their total assets and income. Then, subtract their liabilities from their assets.

However, this can be tricky since it is difficult for agencies to access celebrities’ complete financial information. Furthermore, they typically have more diversified assets. So, it can be difficult to get an accurate figure. Many celebrities openly discuss the value of their homes, cars, artwork, jewelry, and even income. But, it becomes even more of a challenge to determine a celebrity’s net worth when they have holdings or accounts under a corporation or third party names.

You can find several sites that calculate celebrity net worth based on reported figures. They use public records of celebrities’ stock shared and estimated values on their assets. But, the online estimates are educated guesses, at best. In reality, only their accountant or the celebrities themselves know their true net worth.

The Problems with Celebrity Net Worth Calculators

You can easily find celebrity net worth calculators online, such as the on used by CelebrityNetWorth.com. Do a quick search and you will find information on almost every celebrity imaginable.

CNW claims to use a ‘proprietary algorithm,’ but critics claim they overshoot the mark at times. However, publicists are unlikely to correct mistakes that report celebrity’s net worth as higher than it actually is. Furthermore, these sights have no legal accountability for their estimated calculations. They can easily blame inaccuracies on algorithms, so it is best to view them as ballpark estimates.

Who Are the Richest Celebrities from 2020?

1. George Lucas – $6.5 billion

George Lucas became the richest celebrity in Hollywood, earning film credits as director, producer, and writer. He made his billions after creating Star Wars, the most successful film franchise in Hollywood history. However, he claimed the top spot when he sold Star Wars to Disney for $4.1 billion.

2. Steven Spielberg – $3.7 billion

The second spot goes to fellow director, producer, screenwriter, Steven Spielberg. He skyrocketed to fame and became a household name for creating the concept of blockbuster movies. His first big hit came in 1975 with Jaws, and he had dozens more that followed. Spielberg’s billions are a direct product of his Hollywood success.

3. Oprah Winfrey – $3.5 billion

The first woman to appear on this list is Oprah Winfrey. This media mogul and entrepreneur rose to stardom with her TV talk show that became one of the most popular and longest running on television. Winfrey earned her billions by branching out into film, publishing, and creating a TV network. No one will contest that Oprah is one of the most successful influential celebrities in Hollywood.

4. Kanye West – $3.2 billion

Kanye West first gained fame for his music career. He made roughly $400 million from making records, doing tours, and selling merchandise. However, when he launched his clothing brand, Yeezy, he established himself among the billionaire’s club. Financial analysts estimate that Kanye West will earn an additional $2.2 billion in royalties alone by 2026. So, don’t be surprised if his name continues to climb this list.

5. Donald Trump – $3.1 billion

Although some will argue that Donald Trump is no longer a celebrity, you cannot deny his success as a reality TV star. His identities as businessman, president, and a celebrity are forever intertwined. He first gained fame as a businessman. Then, his business success also grew due to his fame. That is why Trump makes this list when you calculate the celebrity net worth of Hollywood elite.

6. Jami Gertz – $3 billion

Jami Gertz first gained filmed credit as an actress in many movies in the 1980s. While she was already very wealth, her net worth drastically increased after her husband became a billionaire. Since then, they bought ownership stakes in two sports teams as well, the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Hawks.

7. Michael Jordan – $2.2 billion

Michael Jordan is undoubtedly the richest professional athlete in the world. According to the sites that calculate celebrity net worth, he earned approximately $94 million during his all-star NBA career. However, most of his wealth is due to endorsements from Gatorade and Nike. Now, he is the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets, but sold 20% of his stakes for nearly $1.5 billion. He still retains majority control of the team and status as one of the richest celebrities in America.

8. Paul McCartney – $1.2 billion

Paul McCartney has penned and performed some of the world’s most beloved songs as a member of the Beatles. He also went on to a very successful solo career after the band separated. While his talent earned him a great deal of fame and fortune, he claimed his billionaire wealth thanks to his clear understanding of publishing rights. The popularity of his music is sure to continue you to keep him among celebrity elite.

9. David Copperfield – $1 billion

David Copperfield claimed his celebrity status as an elite illusionist. He sparked global interest when he walked through the Great Wall of China and made the Statue of Liberty disappear. His stage performances earned him several awards as well. Copperfield also owns several valuable assets, including an expansive collection of magic memorabilia valued at $500 million.

10. Jay-Z – $1 billion

Jay-Z is a renowned entrepreneur who established himself as one of the biggest rappers of his time. He became a music mogul after founding Roc-A-Fella Records, then later CEO and President of Def Jams Records. He managed to maintain the  rights to his music which helped him greatly increase his net worth. Jay-Z also married Beyonce who also holds considerable assets. As a couple, their combined net worth is around $1.4 billion.

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