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 the 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 with 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.

 Read More

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.

Read More

 

How to Obtain a Home Improvement Loan

How to Obtain a Home Improvement Loan

After several years in your home, the question of home improvements is bound to come up. Sometimes it is due to necessary repairs and maintenance. For others, it is a great way to add value to your property. Unfortunately, these improvements often come with a steep price tag. If you are looking for ways to fund your projects, here is how to obtain a home improvement loan to help you update your house.

The Prep Work to Obtain a Home Improvement Loan

Before you set a meeting with a bank or lender, you should know what to expect. This includes knowing what questions they will ask and having the necessary documentation in hand.

The first thing any lender will do is run a credit check. You can do this beforehand by running a ‘soft’ credit check through Experian. If you know what your current score is, then you will have a better idea what loan options the bank or lender can offer you.

Next, the lender will ask for income verification to ensure you can repay the loan. So, take some time to prepare the documents like pay stubs, W-2s, or recent tax return for the self-employed. If you have an appraisal of your home and the projected cost of the project, it will also present you as a more favorable applicant.

Types of Home Improvement Loans

The scale and financial needs of your project will also affect which loans are available to you. Your financial health will also greatly affect the interest rates and terms offered. Here are the most common types of home improvement loans.

Unsecured Personal Loans

With an unsecured loan, you do not need to provide collateral to secure the loan. The interest rates the lender can offer you will depend on your credit score. However, once approved the funding comes quickly once you agree to the terms. Often times, you can have the money in your account within the same day. Unsecured home improvement loans usually have a shorter repayment period, lower amounts, and fewer fees than secured loans. However, they will also have higher rates, especially if you have a low credit score.

Home Equity Loans

This loan is more commonly referred to as a second mortgage because you are borrowing against the value of your home. The loan is paid as one lump sum that you repay over a longer period of time in fixed monthly installments. The benefit of getting this type of home improvement loan is that you never have to worry about market fluctuations affecting your interest rates. The greatest concern is that if you get too far behind in your payments, your home could be at risk for foreclosure.

Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC)

This secured loan is a popular option for home improvement projects because they usually offer lower interest rates than unsecured loans. A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is a revolving credit which allows you to take money as needed. Although they provide greater flexibility, they are subject to variable interest rates. Furthermore, you must use your home as collateral meaning you could be in trouble if you are unable to make your monthly payments.

The Best Home Improvement Loan for You

Before undertaking any new renovation or maintenance projects, take stock of your financial situation. Ensure that you are ready to take on the responsibility of an additional monthly payment. If it is stretching your budget beyond your means, ask yourself just how necessary it is. Obtaining a home improvement loan is a huge financial commitment that may require you to borrow against the equity in your home. Take the time to consider all your loan and refinancing options. Choose the one best suited for your project and budget.

Read More