Foundational Legal Concepts in Estate Planning

When clients come to our offices to ask about estate planning, they sometimes confuse some basic legal concepts that their lawyer takes for granted. Understanding some essential legal concepts is necessary if you want to be sure to get the most out of the estate planning process. To that end, we’ve come up with a brief list of concepts you might want to review. Concept 1: Civil or Criminal Law The difference between civil and criminal law is one of the most important, and commonly misunderstood, differences in the law. A criminal case occurs when local, state, or federal prosecutor accuses someone of committing a crime. The person accused of the crime, known as the defendant, faces the possibility of jail, fines, and other criminal penalties if convicted. Criminal cases are, at their heart, about punishment. Most estate planning situations do not involve criminal issues. Civil law, on the other hand, encompasses all the other legal conflicts that can arise. Disputes about contract t
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