PROBATE, WILLS, POWER OF ATTORNEYS & TRUSTS
Court processes involving guardianships, conservatorships, trust oversight, and the processing the property and debts after a person dies are called Probate.
Listen to Judge Donna Paulsen discuss “Probate“:
When people need someone to take care of them a guardianship can be created. A court-appointed “guardian” makes sure the physical, shelter, education, and medical needs of a “ward” are taken care of. Guardianships are often used for: a) mentally challenged adults; b) children with absent, incapacitated or deceased parents; or c) elderly persons with dementia or physical limitations.
Conservatorships are created when a person needs help managing their finances, business, investments or assets. The person who manages is called a “Conservator” for a “ward” – the person in need.
“Standby” guardianships and conservatorships are created in anticipation of potential future needs. Parents who want control of who takes care of their children in the event of the parent’s disability or death use them. Standby arrangements are helpful with aging persons or people facing dementia or debilitating diseases.
The most well-known probate process is a probate estate created to settle the affairs of a person who has died. A person or entity is appointed by a judge to collect the assets of the decedent, pay debts, give notices, distribute the decedent’s assets and provide an accounting to the court and others. If a person dies without a Will, assets are divided by statutory rules of intestate succession. If a person dies with a Will, assets left to be divided are distributed as directed in the Will. Visit with attorney Daniel Willems and learn how he can save your family money in a probate process.
WILLS (also called “Last Will and Testaments”):
A “Last Will and Testament” (Will) provides instructions about the winding up of your financial life following death and about the distribution of your belongings and properties. A Will can also create a trust which manages your investments and property for a people who need assistance and perhaps protection from claims of their creditors.
To prepare a Will, your attorney will need you to provide detailed financial information. It will be important to inform your attorney of your desires for distribution of your assets and about beneficiaries you have designated for life insurance, retirement. bank accounts and other investments.
To keep the cost at a minimum, Daniel W. Willems will provide a Will Questionnaire which you can fill out and return so that he can prepare an initial draft to review with you.
Listen to Judge Linda Neuman discuss “Wills and Estate Planning“:
TEN COMMON REASONS FOR HAVING A WILL:
- To give a treasured heirloom or gift to a particular person;
- To devise one’s own scheme of property distribution instead of the method dictated by the State’s laws of intestate succession;
- To create a trust to manage assets and financially care for minor children or dependents;
- To ensure a spouse, children from an earlier marriage, and step children share assets of the estate in a manner considered more fair or realistic;
- To equalize at death the inequities that may have been caused by more support or gifts going to one child during the life of the parent.
- To equalize at death the benefit one person may receive because they have joint ownership of property compared to those who will only share in the benefits of the probate estate after death.
- To give to a charity;
- To advise the court as to who should care for minor children (However, a standby guardianship is the best method to provide care for children.);
- To control who handles financial affairs after death.;
- To plan in such a way as to reduce tax consequences of after-death transfers.
Use an Attorney: A Will must conform to certain statutory requirements to be enforceable. An attorney can stimulate your thoughts and aid your estate planning. An attorney understands how the form, order and language of a will may be interpreted by a court. Adverse tax consequences and sometimes expenses of a probate process can be avoided. Each person’s situation is unique and requires a unique will.
POWER OF ATTORNEY:
Power of Attorney forms are used by one person to grant authority to another person to act or make decisions on their behalf. Common documents include:
- General Financial Power of Attorney;
- Power of Attorneys for limited purposes or periods of time;
- Healthcare Power of Attorney; and
- “Living Wills” which direct when life support can be withdrawn.
Listen to Judge Artis Reis discuss “Heathcare Powers of Attorney“:
Trusts control your assets, make investments, and distribute income and property according to your specifications.
Listen to Jude Artis Reis discuss “Living Trusts“: