Probate is a Court process to ensure that your debts are paid and your assets are distributed according to your will (and to make sure that Will is valid, or if you don’t have a Will, to determine who your heirs are). Although this sounds like a simple, straight-forward process, it is not! It is a process that is open to the public (which can expose you and your family to unscrupulous individuals who pray on families in a time of grief); and the process takes an average of nine to two years to complete. Although it is best that you plan in advance to avoid probate (with a properly created estate plan that includes a Living Trust), our office handles probate estates as efficiently as possible. Our goal is to ensure that the family gets through the process in a manner that brings you all peace of mind.
Unlike a probate, a trust administration is a private process that is handled by your successor trustee. The trustee has the power, without Court intervention, to administer your estate according to the terms of your trust. The complexity and length of the administration depends on the number and type of assets, their total value, and whether the trust includes tax planning provisions. Although a person plans their estate with a Living Trust, the family will still require some assistance following the death of a loved one, to administer the trust appropriately. Our office is here to serve you.
If you become mentally or physically incapacitated, the Court will appoint someone to take care of your health and/or financial needs until you recover. If you do not recover, the conservatorship will continue indefinitely and is subject to ongoing accountings and reports to the Court. A conservatorship is a protective proceeding for adults without capacity; however, a conservatorship can also be avoided by having a complete estate plan, specifically with the use of a Living Trust and Financial and Health Care Powers of Attorney. Our office is available to assist you with any of your needs regarding incapacity.
The Court can appoint a guardian of the person or estate, or both, of a minor that will last until the minor’s 18th birthday. Like a conservatorship, the guardian must also file ongoing accountings and reports with the Court. If a minor does not have the capacity to manage his or her own affairs at the age of 18, then a conservatorship will be established upon the termination of the guardianship. With a properly prepared estate plan, a guardianship is usually unnecessary. If, however, your family is in a situation requiring a guardianship, we are here to assist you.
MISCELLANEOUS COURT PROCEEDINGS
DenHerder & Associates can also assist you with various petitions related to estate and trust administration issues. Please feel free to inquire regarding your specific needs.