Frequently Asked Legal Questions in Barnstable County, MA

Get Expert Legal Insight for Your Estate Planning Questions

When our life situations change – a shift in the family dynamic, the passing of a loved one, inheritance of property or assets – things can get complicated. Sometimes, you need outside help to guide you through the legal steps and create a plan for the best possible outcome. The Law Office of Chantal Hayes Rice, Esq., in West Yarmouth, MA, is here for you. We have worked with countless families and individuals in Barnstable County on a broad array of legal issues. Our firm understands the challenges these situations present, and we strive to provide expert legal insight, answers, and strategy through it all. As one of Cape Cod’s premier law firms, we specialize in estate planning, long-term care & MassHealth planning, wills and trusts, probate and trust administration, family law, divorce, mediation, and more. We use our expertise to provide a “big picture” view of your unique situation then aid you in navigating all legal scenarios to avoid costly litigation in the future. We invite you to take some time to review some of our most frequently asked legal questions below, then contact us today for your free legal consultation to get started.


What is Estate Planning?


Estate planning is the process of controlling what happens to property and assets while the owner (you or a loved one) is still alive and fully aware of their actions. It provides a legally binding procedure for the distribution of these assets in case of death or disablement and allows the planner to control spending on trust tax planning, attorney fees, and court costs as well. 


When Should I Start Organizing My Estate Planning?


The simple answer here is immediately. Having an ironclad estate plan is essential to avoid future strife for your family, no matter how large your estate may be. Not only does it benefit your family's emotional state, but it also keeps your sensitive information out of probate court, protects you from creditors, and contains concise, well-thought-out instructions for your family in the event of your passing.


What Should I Do First for Estate Planning?


Arrange your free consultation with Attorney Chantal Hayes Rice, Esq. to go over exactly how we can help you plan your estate. Every estate plan is unique. Your estate planning may require extensive organization, additional legal resources, communication with governing bodies, and extensive filing to put everything in place. Our firm and estate planning attorney is here to help you with all of it and ensure your plan is structured the way you want, down to the smallest detail.


What is Mediation?


Mediation is a form of confidential, voluntary, structured negotiation between two parties who have decided to end their marriage amicably in divorce. Our licensed attorneys act as impartial go-betweens for the two parties and try to help them agree on many issues before making those decisions legally binding. While our mediators cannot provide legal advice to either party, we can explain certain legal concepts and offer broad, helpful strategies concerning the structure of their agreement.   


When is Mediation the Right Choice?


Mediation is the right choice for couples who wish to avoid legal litigation (appearance in court). Many marriages end with both parties being friendly towards one another and looking for a peaceful resolution for visitations, custody, division of assets, and more. For mediation to work, both parties must be truthful (as there is no formal investigation process) and willing to work together, even through complex situations, to arrive at the best possible conclusion.


What is the Difference between Mediation & Litigation?


The courts oversee divorce litigation. It is a very formal, costly process that involves skilled legal representation, investigations, testimony, and strategy. During divorce litigation, both parties are generally at odds with one another and, therefore, must seek legal representation to obtain the best possible result for them. Mediation is two parties working together to settle things on their own without the courts. Our legal mediators guide the process, encourage discussion, offer impartial expertise, and assist both parties in coming to a mutually beneficial agreement.


What Is Probate?


Probate is an administration of your estate, which the courts oversee. When your estate or that of a deceased loved one falls into probate, the courts will organize all assets, pay all bills and settle all creditor issues, and oversee the distribution of that estate according to the final wishes (say from the last will). 


What Assets Go Through Probate?


When a loved one passes, the assets in their name – homes, properties, bank accounts, etc. - will go into probate. Joint assets do not go into probate. Those assets are distributed to the surviving owner. 


Should I Avoid Probate?


Many of our clients try to avoid probate for several reasons. Primarily, probate cases are public records, and therefore the intimate information therein is public. Also, wills can be contested, freezing the estate and the distribution of assets for more extended periods. Finally, probate means court time, and that can be costly. Probate can cost up to 10% of your gross estate in taxes, filing fees, administration, and more.  You can avoid probate and save time and money through another legal device like a living trust.


What Is a Will?


A will is a legal document, which details the distribution of your assets after your death. This document is binding and is validated through the probate court process. 


What is a Trust?


A trust is a legal device that lets you control the distribution of assets (yours or a decedent’s), free of the court probate process.  Upon your passing or the passing of a loved one, you can decide what assets go to what beneficiaries at what time and how that process is carried out. Chantal Hayes Rice, Esq. is a premier trust administration attorney, expert in her field and, always follows strict instructions to the letter to best serve you. 

Contact The Law Office of Chantal Hayes Rice, Esq.

Complex legal matters require expert legal answers. Let the Law Office of Chantal Hayes Rice, Esq. be your legal advocate and offer the insights, expertise, and legal advocacy you want for a wide range of issues. Contact us today for your free consultation.