Estate Planning & Probate Law

Although death is inevitable, it does not have to cause unnecessary stress and confusion for your loved ones left behind.  Creating an estate plan simplifies and streamlines the process so that your final wishes are carried out.  It also lessons the burden on your loved ones to “figure everything out” while they are grieving.

A proper estate plan should include the following legal documents:

  • Last Will and Testament or Pour-Over Will if a Trust Agreement has been already created.
  • Living will, which directs doctors what kind of end-of-life care and medical treatment you want.
  • Designated health care surrogate, which designates a medical power of attorney to make health care judgments on your behalf.
  • Durable Power of Attorney, which delegates and grants authority to an agent to act on your behalf while you are alive.
  • Declaration naming pre-need guardian, which identifies who you want to be your legal guardian should you ever become incapacitated or declared incompetent by a court of law.
  • HIPPA release, authorizing doctors to speak about your condition to designated family members.

“The magistrates are the ministers for the laws, the judges their interpreters, the rest of us are servants of the law, that we all may be free.”

Marcus Tulius Cicero, Writer, politician and great roman orator
(106-43 BC)

Having a will alone will not prevent your estate from going into probate.  Probate is a court-supervised process for marshaling the decedent’s property and assets in order to to pay the decedent’s debts and distribute the assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries.  Depending on the value of assets and how long the decedent has passed away, probate can be either formal or informal (also known as summary administration).  All probates are a matter of public record. Depending on what types of assets you have, creating a Living Trust is a useful tool to avoid probate and distribute property and assets without court intervention.

Not all assets are probateable.  An estate planning attorney can properly guide you to dispose of and distribute your assets without the extra expense, burden and delay of involving court intervention and without exposing your will, assets and family members to the public.

I’m here to help.  Call me to schedule a consultation to discuss which options are best suited to your needs or to review your existing will documents to determine if they need to be updated.