Changes to "Stretch" Provisions for Beneficiaries of IRAs and Defined Contribution Plans Under the SECURE Act

Changes to "Stretch" Provisions for Beneficiaries of IRAs and Defined Contribution Plans Under the SECURE Act

The passage of the SECURE Act, which went in to effect on January 1, 2020, is changing retirement.

What is a Will and Why Do I Need One?

Of course, no one knows when he or she will die. However, we do have the privilege to determine our legacy, who will care for our minor or incapacitated children, and how our assets will ultimately be distributed upon our death. The best way to do this is by making sure that we properly prepare.

What is a Will?
A last will and testament, commonly known as a Will, is a document that helps protect your family as well as your assets. A Will dictates how your assets will be distributed upon your death. Wills are powerful and crucial legal documents.

The Importance of a Will
Having a Will in place is crucial because it gives your family members peace of mind while they are grieving and going through the healing process. A Will sets out your wishes as to who will inherit your property after you die. Not having a Will could result in family feuds and possible legal battles between loved ones you leave behind.

Failure to execute a Last Will and Testament results in the state determining the distribution of your assets via intestate succession laws. The downside of this intestate legal process is that the distribution outcome may possibly not be in line with your last wishes.

Additionally, a Will is very important for mothers and fathers of minor children. It allows them to name a guardian to care for their minor or incapacitated children. Having a Will also allows a parent to appoint a person to oversee and manage the property that is left to minor or incapacitated children.

Another great benefit of making a Will is that the document names an executor or personal representative. A personal representative is a person that is named to ensure that the provisions of one’s Will are carried out correctly

Who May Make a Will?
The legal requirement to execute a Last Will and Testament in Alabama is that the person must be at least 18 years old, of sound mind, and not under any undue influence. The person must also not be coerced or threatened into making a Will.

How Do I Make a Will?
It is highly recommended that anyone seeking to have a Will prepared first consult with a lawyer. For a Will to be considered legal in the eyes of the law, certain requirements must be fulfilled.

May I Dispose Of My Property in Any Way I Desire By Making a Will?
Although an individual generally has the privilege to dispose of the property of their estate as they wish, there are some specific state law restrictions when it comes to succession and inheritance. For instance, a married person cannot completely exclude the other spouse from sharing in his/her estate. A lawyer can best explain all of the limitations set out in the law.

How Do I Know If I Need to Write a Will?
Most everyone needs a Will. Your family circumstances and the size of your estate are primary determining factors. Guardianship provisions are key provisions in a Will. If your children are minors or you have an adult child who is dependent upon you, then you need a Will. Further, if you own assets that require distribution through your Estate, you need a Will. Simply having a small estate does not mean that you do not need a Will. Owning assets that can be divided and distributed to your loved ones identifies you as someone who needs a Will. This is particularly important if you want specific assets to pass to a particular individual or organization after your death.

When Do I Need To Write A Will?
A Will can be executed at any time a person wishes to do so. The best time to work with a lawyer to draft a Last Will and Testament is when one is in good health and free from emotional distress. The benefit of executing a Will when one is in good health and free from emotional distress is that it is much less likely to be invalidated through judicial action via Will contest once probated after death.

Is A Will Expensive?
Lawyers charge hourly rates or flat rates dependent upon the project and its complexity. What this means is that dependent upon the size of your estate and the composition of your family, it may take more time to draft a Will that accommodates all of your wishes. In simple terms, the amount of money you will spend for a lawyer’s services to assist you in drafting your Will depends entirely on the size and complexity of your estate.

May A Will Be Changed Once It Is Written?
The provisions of a Will may be changed at any time prior to the testator’s death. This may be done by drafting and executing a new Will or by drafting and executing a codicil (amendment) to your Last Will and Testament. For a codicil to be valid, it must follow the same formalities of the execution of an original Will.

How Long is My Will “Good”?
A Will is deemed good as long as it has not been revoked or changed. If your family makeup or estate changes after making your first Will, it is prudent to update your Will or execute a new one that is in line with your property and family members. For instance, if you are blessed with the birth of a new child, you should have your original Will updated by a lawyer.

What Should I Do With My Will Once It Is Executed?
Once you have executed your Will, it is crucial to let a close friend or a family member know about its whereabouts. Make sure that it is sealed and kept in a safe place where those you trust know where to find it.

If you’re in need of a lawyer to help you prepare and execute a Last Will and Testament, please contact Isom Stanko & Senter for a consultation today!


Important Things to Look for when Choosing Legal Counsel

Finding the right lawyer isn’t always easy. Most people only need to see a lawyer a few times in their lives, but how do you know which lawyer to choose?

The lawyer you hired to write your will probably isn’t the lawyer who should help you sue your employer for failing to pay overtime. The lawyer who helped you buy your home might not be the right person to help you settle an injury claim.

No lawyer is right for every case or for every client. Here are six important things you should look for when you choose a lawyer to help you with your legal situation.


As a client, you are going to spend a significant amount of time with the lawyer you hire. If a case goes to trial, you may very well spend hours together in preparation. No one wants to spend that amount of time with someone they dislike.

Clients and lawyers need to communicate with each other effectively. They need to respect each other. Your lawyer needs to understand your specific goals and you as a client need to understand that your lawyer will help you determine whether your goals are achievable.

Communication, respect, and understanding are all part of the rapport that clients should develop with their lawyers. If you decide to interview a few lawyers before you select one, use the criteria listed below to decide whether a lawyer is highly qualified to represent you. Then decide whether you will be able to develop a rapport with that lawyer.


Everyone knows a lawyer joke. Most lawyer jokes suggest that attorneys are shady or dishonest. Just to be clear: some lawyers may fit that stereotype. But most do not. Most lawyers are honest, hardworking, ethical, and dedicated to their crafts.

Good lawyers might need to be tough negotiators and aggressive advocates, but they develop those skills to better serve their clients. A lawyer can be strong without being deceitful. Good lawyers know that their reputations are everything. They don’t cheat their clients because they depend on clients to refer their friends who need a lawyer. A satisfied client is the best kind of advertising. Practicing law in a small town, you must maintain integrity. One of our main goals is for our clients to be able to tell their friends “This is a law firm you can trust.”


Every lawyer starts out with little to no experience. Many new lawyers are bright and talented and will have successful careers. When new lawyers handle litigation, they typically start with small, simple cases, often working under the supervision of a more experienced lawyer. After they acquire experience, they begin to work on more complex matters.

As we all know, experience is the best teacher. Just like you, lawyers learn from their mistakes. Experienced lawyers are much more likely to make few mistakes because they have learned how to avoid them.

Experience allows lawyers to gain skills that can’t be acquired in law school, including:

  • Negotiating with a seasoned lawyer or insurance adjuster
  • Valuing a case for settlement
  • Picking a sympathetic jury
  • Cross-examining witnesses
  • Making effective arguments to juries
  • Persuading judges to make rulings that favor a client

The more experience your lawyer has, the more effectively they deal with other lawyers and insurance adjusters. Over time they’ll learn the tendencies of local judges and juries.

If you have a small, simple case, any competent lawyer might be able to handle it well. If you have more at stake, however, you probably want to find a lawyer who has experience.


Lawyers are judged by their clients, by judges, and by their peers. Over time, lawyers develop a reputation. Lawyers who have a reputation for excellence are usually a good choice if they have time to take your case.

One way to learn about a lawyer’s reputation is to ask friends about lawyers they have used in cases that are similar to yours. Are they happy with the representation they received? If your friends praise a lawyer, it might be worth making an appointment to chat with that lawyer about your case.

If a lawyer representing you in an unrelated matter, you might want to ask that lawyer for a referral. For instance, the lawyer who wrote your will or handled your divorce might not do personal injury cases, but will almost certainly be able to recommend attorneys who work in that field of law.


A lawyer’s area of expertise is important. When seeking a lawyer for a particular service it is important to ask about the type of cases that lawyer generally handles. What is the breakdown of that lawyer’s practice? What types of cases and in what area? Or areas of the law does that lawyer generally handle?

Keep in mind that most lawyers are not certified in a specialty, but that does not necessarily mean that a specific lawyer is not an expert in a specific field, particularly where a lawyer handles a high volume of cases in a particular practice area.


Some attorneys see law as a job. The best lawyers view law as a way to bring justice to people who need help. A good lawyer is compassionate towards his client’s plight.

During an initial interview, lawyers need to ask lots of questions to learn the important facts of the case. But good lawyers listen carefully to the answers and make clear that they understand a client’s concerns.

Good lawyers feel a client’s pain. Lawyers cannot become emotionally attached to clients; because that kind of attachment clouds professional judgment, but good lawyers care about their clients and want to do everything they can to help clients achieve justice through compassion and empathy.

You’ll want a lawyer that possesses these traits listed above, but, most importantly, you’ll want to find someone that you are comfortable with and that you can be open and honest with.

If you’re in need of a lawyer, please contact Isom Stanko & Senter for a consultation today!


Contact Us Today

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.