Probate is the legal process that occurs after a person dies. The loss of a loved one can be a difficult and stressful situation. Handling the distribution of a loved-one's assets - especially if he or she did not leave a Will - can add stress to an already emotional time. If there is a will, the probate court must first validate that the will is authentic, then the Personal Representative is appointed (formerly known as an "Executor"). The Personal Representative then does an inventory of the estate, pays bills and, eventually, distributes the estate according to the Will. When a person leaves no will, the probate court must decide, according to the law, who gets what.
The probate of an estate can be formal or informal, depending on the people and level of conflict involved. If all of the beneficiaries are in agreement and no minors are involved, an informal probate is a relatively simple and inexpensive process. If there is a high level of conflict, or some of the heirs are minors, a formal probate is needed. Either way, Hyde. Poor & Associates can guide you through the Probate process with skill and compassion.
Nearly everyone has an estate. Your estate is comprised of everything you own— your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions. No matter how large or how modest, all estates have something in common—you can’t take it with you when you die.
When that happens, you probably want to control how those things are given to the people or organizations you care most about. To ensure your wishes are carried out, you need to provide instructions stating whom you want to receive something of yours, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it. You will, of course, want this to happen with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees, and court costs. That's called estate planning.
Most Estate plans consist of the following documents
- Will - A will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and the care of any minor children.
- Health Care Proxy- A health care proxy is a document that allows a person to appoint an agent to make health care decisions in the event that person is incapable of executing such decisions themselves. Once the document is drafted, the primary individual continues to be allowed to make health care decisions as long as they are still able to do so.
- Durable Power of Attorney -A power of attorney gives someone you choose the power to act in your place. A durable power of attorney simply means that the document stays in effect if you become incapacitated and unable to handle matters on your own. With a valid power of attorney, the trusted person you name will be legally permitted to take care of important matters for you -- for example, paying your bills or managing your investments-- if you are unable to do so yourself. It can also be used to allow a trusted person to take care of your finances if you are unavailable due to travel or work.
These documents give you the peace of mind that comes with providing your family with guidance as to what you want done in the event of your incapacity or death. Estate planning may not be a pleasant thought, but not doing anything can end up costing your loved ones much more than it would cost you to plan now.
At Hyde. Poor & Associates we can provide a comprehensive estate plan for you and your family at a reasonable cost. If you have ARAG or Hyatt legal insurance plan, there may be no cost to you at all. If you have any questions regarding the probate of an estate, or planning for the future, please feel free to contact us at 978-425-0005.