Because of the court costs, hearings, and attorney fees associated with probate, many individuals want an estate plan that avoids court altogether. The cornerstone revolves around a Trust. In a trust, an individual takes assets out of their names during their lifetimes and places those assets into the name of the trust they have created. If the trust is revocable, which most are, the settlor (the person who creates the trust) has complete control over the assets. However, at the settlor’s death, the trust becomes irrevocable and the successor trustee must carry out the settlor’s intentions and distribute the remaining assets based on the trust. So a trust is like a will that does not go to court. At death the assets are distributed by a trustee, someone chosen and trusted by the settlor. Because of the avoidance of probate, trusts are growing in popularity.
This office has drafted many trusts over the years and can guide you through the legal maze towards achieving your goals without court intervention.
Powers of Attorney
Just like trusts are similar to wills but avoid probate, powers of attorney are similar to guardianships and conservatorships and also avoid court.
A Durable Power of Attorney, (DPA), is an essential part of estate planning. It is an authorization for a person or entity you act on your behalf as your agent or attorney. It is effective during your lifetime, entirely revocable if you so choose, and it remains effective even if you become physically or mentally incapacitated. You may have thought about making a will and planning your funeral, but have you thought about what would happen if you became unable to manage your affairs due to a sudden illness or injury? A DPA can help you appoint the person or entity of your choosing to take care of your assets and handle your affairs. This document will save your loved ones the time and expense of going to court to obtain a guardianship or conservatorship.
As your attorney, I can prepare a DPA tailored to your individual needs and provide guidance on how to use the document. The person or entity you appoint will be charged with following your instructions and acting in your best interest by making important financial and personal decisions for you. If you already have a DPA, it is a good practice to review it every few years to make sure it still serves its intended purpose.