Estate Planning

Do I Have to Go to Court to Be Executor or Administrator?

Generally the person who will serve as Executor or Administrator does not need to appear in Court. A simple power of attorney form enables us to take care of the appointment oath and bond without a personal appearance by the appointee.

Do I Need an Attorney?

Do you really think I am going to advise you not to use an attorney? Probate, in theory, is pretty simple. There’s no problem unless there’s a problem. Some mistakes in probate, however, cannot be undone and there can be personal liability for losses that occur. If the executor or administrator does not correctly handle the estate he may have to make up the loss out of his own money. In a small estate the risk is minimal, but do you really want to have to write a personal check because of a technical mistake in handling someone else’s money?

How Can We Save Money?

In a well written Will there are certain provisions that will save money and time in probate. Even when there is no Will or the Will is poorly written, however, there are generally some things that can be done that will significantly reduce the amount of time and money it takes to get an estate settled. Disclaimers and waivers can eliminate a number of steps in the process and sometimes even reduce taxes. If you are facing probate problems, the earlier you get good advice, the more options you will have in solving those problems.

How Do I Get my Share?

As a beneficiary, sometimes all you have to do is wait. Other times, waiting will only lead to more waiting until your share disappears into the expenses. It is not always cost effective to fight but it is always appropriate to obtain records and to keep informed of the progress. Each situation has to be considered on its own but, “you don’t get what you don’t ask for”. Make your interests known. If you need help, call us!

How Do I handle Problems and Disputes?

An experienced probate attorney has already considered which disputes can arise and will work to prevent issues from becoming serious long before the parties themselves realize that issues even exist. Both death and money stir the emotions. Putting these two factors together with one or more mistakes in handling probate matters, or even in discussing them, can create a real firestorm in the family. The best way to prevent disputes is to anticipate them and have a clear plan. The guidance of an experienced attorney can prevent problems, save money and keep everyone happy. Think ahead.

Can My Attorney be Executor or Trustee?

Anyone you choose can be your Trustee. Likewise, almost anyone can be Executor in your Will. Both the positions are considered fiduciary roles and come with fiduciary obligations. Certain standards apply to the conduct of a fiduciary. Generally they must conduct the affairs of the estate or trust as a prudent businessman would do. Both positions require a certain professionalism but an executor needs only a minimum of financial expertise, a trustee, on the other hand, may need quite a bit of knowledge of investing, as the position can exist longer and with less statutory guidance. In short, it is often more efficient that an attorney handle such matters, but it matters whom you choose!