A will is a legal document which divides a person’s money and property in the event of death. Wills have to be probated which means they must go through a court proceeding where creditors and interested parties are notified of the proceedings. After expenses have been paid and assets distributed, the probate estate is closed.
Wills need to be drafted with care and thought. A will is not probated until the testator (the person who made the will) is dead. Then it is too late to ask the testator what he or she really meant. Wills that are not properly drafted may be challenged on many grounds including claims of fraud or incompetence. These legal challenges can be very costly. You need a lawyer with the experience and patience to draft a will that will discourage a legal challenge but if challenged would stand up in court.
Guardianships and Conservatorships
During a person’s lifetime if he or she becomes legally incapacited through injury or dementia or if a minor child is in need of a protector a person could petition the court to grant a guardianship or a conservatorship. Guardians are appointed to take day to day care of legally incapacitated individuals or minors. With minors the guardian functions as a parent. For legally incapacitated adults the guardian handles affairs as the legally incapacitated person would have done if he or she was able. Conservators manage the money or other assets. In both instances, the court conducts annual accounts or reviews to make sure guardian or conservator is acting in the best interests of the court ward.