A Last Will and Testament is a written document that directs the distribution of your property at death. It also states who will care for and distribute your property and names a Guardian to care for minor children that you may have. You should have an attorney prepare your Will to make certain that it is valid and that your estate is distributed as you desire.
You should review your Will every three to five years to ensure that it still effectively communicates your wishes and reflects any life changes.
Financial Powers of Attorney enable you to appoint someone to take care of your personal business and financial affairs. A financial power of attorney can be plenary, meaning it authorizes the attorney in fact to take care of all of your personal business and financial affairs, or you can limit the authorization to specific activities, such as the execution of a mortgage and other documents necessary for a real estate closing.
Healthcare Powers of Attorney give another person the authority to act on your behalf and make healthcare decisions in the event of your incapacity. The healthcare power of attorney can be exercised only in the event you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions. Included in many Healthcare Powers of Attorney are Living Will provisions that allow you to indicate the type of life-sustaining procedures you would like to receive or not receive in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself and your doctors determine you cannot recover.
Probate is a court-supervised procedure for recognizing your Last Will and Testament after you die and for transferring ownership to the appropriate beneficiaries. Probate laws are designed to make sure that the assets of the decedent are properly applied to the payment of debts and taxes and to facilitate the transfer of property to the rightful beneficiaries and heirs.
The probate process also involves the payment of certain fees. The value of the Estate and the complexity of the services involved will determine the attorney fees. We encourage you to visit with us about our fee, so we can give you an estimate of the total fees before we proceed with Probate.
The time needed for probate depends on many factors, such as the estate size, type of assets owned, form of ownership, tax issues, complexity of family relationships, creditors’ claims, and whether a farm or business is involved. Generally, an estate may be open for 6 months to 1 year.
If you need legal assistance in one of these areas, please do not hesitate to contact our office. Our firm is ready to provide you with the individualized attention that you and your family may need.