It’s important to consider-and protect-the future.

Probate is the legal process whereby a Will is “proven” in court. The process includes distributing the assets of a deceased person to the heirs of an estate. Probating the estate can be a long, drawn out process that can be very time consuming even when there is not any conflict among family members.  How the probate court proceeds depends in part upon whether your loved one died with a will, or intestate (without a will.)

Wills

The creation of a Will is the simplest form of estate planning.  A Will is a legal written document by which you designate the person(s) or entities who will receive the assets you own at your death. If there is no Will or other testamentary document, family members may disagree about their loved one’s home, property, assets, and debts.  If you have minor children, a Will can also appoint a person(s) to serve as the legal guardian for your minor children when you pass away.  Within your Will, you will designates a trusted individual to serve as the Personal Representative of your estate.  The Personal Representative is responsible for administering your estate and carrying out the directives contained in your Will.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document which is a written authorization to represent or act on another’s behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter.  A POA must be created and properly executed before a person becomes incapacitated.  If properly done, a durable POA continues to be in effect even if the beneficiary becomes incapacitated and it lasts until death, while a non-durable Power of Attorney is no longer in effect if the beneficiary becomes incapacitated.  A durable POA  allows the agent access bank accounts, pay bills, manage financial, investment, and business affairs, perform retirement planning activities, sell property, obtain insurance, and pay taxes along with many other authorizations.

Guardian and Conservator

If a person has significant injury, dementia, or other incapacitating affliction, and that person does not have a Power of Attorney or Healthcare Agent in place before their incapacity, a Guardianship and Conservatorship action may be necessary.  These actions are filed in the Probate Court and seek to protect the incapacitated person’s assets by having a person appointed to handle business affairs and make healthcare decisions for the incapacitated person.  The process of appointing a Guardian and Conservator is often a difficult and time consuming process which requires the assistance of an experienced attorney to assist you in seeking a Guardianship and Conservatorship for someone else.