Probate Court: How Can You Communicate With The Beneficiaries?

When someone you love dies without having his or her estate plan and other affairs in order, there is a possibility the estate will have to go to probate court. No one likes dealing with a probate. It is a long and difficult process to go through; it is also highly frustrating.

Can you imagine if every one in the family is not getting along or if the communication is not up to par? Things will be even more complicated and frustrating. Documents will need to be signed, you will have meetings and hearings, and valuables will need to be distributed. If there is no communication, there will be no proceedings.

If you are representing someone or if you are one of the people receiving property, you should do your part by making sure you communicate with everyone else involved.

If you are responsible for coordinating the entire estate, you need to inform everyone of the hearings, documents, and everything else that is going on. You need to have full communication with everyone. You should establish more than one method of communication with everyone.

If you cannot find the necessary contact information you need for the beneficiaries, below are some tips that may help you find the information you need to reach them:

  • Search social media networks
  • Ask other family members and friends
  • Look through phone books (online or in print)
  • Ask their current or former employers

You should make sure you have complete information of the people you are trying to reach. You should also make notes of who you talked to, when you talked to them, and the information you found.

Hiring a probate attorney can make this situation easier and better for all parties involved. The attorney can potentially help you find those family members who you are unable to communicate with. If an attorney contacts them, they may be more willing to talk. If family issues and arguments are making things hard, a probate attorney can be someone who can step in and not take sides.

If you are ready to discuss probate, you should not hesitate to ask for additional information or request a consultation. Contact us today.

A few tips on avoiding probate.

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” Will Rogers

Just to be clear, no one knows if Mr. Rogers included the above wish in his ‘will’ or not. But the quote may serve to illustrate the importance of having an overall estate plan, one with clear instructions on the final distribution of assets…including who should get the family dog.

In short, savvy investors seek professional advice on how to avoid probate.

Naming Beneficiaries…

We’ve all been conditioned to cringe at the very mentioning of the word probate. And well we should. After all, if we don’t want our assets, or any claims against our estate, listed as part of the public record upon our death, we need to have a will that is part of an overall estate plan.

Joint Tenancy with a Right of Survivorship:

The term refers to property owned jointly, for example, and when one dies the other ‘inherits’ without the bane of public record announcements.

It’s the simple things, like naming beneficiaries to bank accounts, or retirement portfolios: POD or TOD.

Maybe, after meeting with your estate-planning attorney, you decide a trust doesn’t fit your needs and a Last Will is all you require.

Payable on Death (POD)

Upon death, the transfer of your money to named beneficiaries is easy and without the delays normally associated with probate proceedings.

Ask the bank or credit union for The Form to create your POD accounts. Usually, this is a free service that will ensure that all of your checking, savings, CDs, and savings bonds, for example.

Transfer on Death (TOD)

Picky-picky, for sure, but there is a distinction between the two. The main difference is that a TOD agreement names beneficiaries who will receive your stocks, bonds and mutual funds…and, yes, that secret hedge fund.

To begin the conversation about estate planning contact us today.

Estate Planning: Will The People You Choose Honor Your Wishes?

In the event you are no longer able to handle your medical needs and your finances, who will be the person responsible for handling those affairs? What about when you pass away? You want to make sure your estate plans will reflect your wishes. However, the person you list responsible for carrying out those plans is also important. You want to name someone who will honor those wishes because this is a big responsibility.

When you are estate planning, there are some important documents that you need to include, and they include:

  • A Will
  • A revocable trust
  • A power of attorney

When you include those documents, they need to answer some important questions:

  • Who will have the responsibility of unwinding the estate?
  • Who will have the responsibility of carrying out your financial affairs?

In these documents, you will give someone else the authority to make decisions on your behalf. How can you be sure you are choosing the right person?

The Person’s Lifestyle

If you are considering one of your friends who is not known as the responsible one or if he/she does not pay bills on time, then that person may not be the one who should take care of your financial matters. If you are considering one of your friends who does not have children and likes to make travel plans, that person probably should not have responsibility over your children.

You will want to avoid appointing someone to a particular role if they are hesitant about taking on the responsibility. You should also have a list of people just in case things change with the person you asked first. It is important that the people you are considering are all on the same page.

It is also important to communicate your thoughts, your concerns, and your questions. It may help to write letters that will clearly express your wishes and concerns.

You may feel overwhelmed with putting your estate plan together, but these plans are essential. Whatever you put in your documents will be better than letting someone in the court system decide for you and your family.

If you are considering estate planning and you are unsure of what you should do, feel free to contact us with your questions.

Estate Plan Considerations: Do You Want to Age in Place?

One of the considerations you need to make for your estate plan is whether you want to continue living at home, well into old age or even until you pass away. A report from the National Conference of State Legislatures states that in a 2010 survey conducted by the AARP, 90% of respondents over 65 hoped to stay at home for as long as they could.

There are many reasons seniors prefer their own place, including the fact that they find their homes familiar and comfortable, and that they enjoy a greater feeling of independence. Furthermore, living at home might be less costly than staying at a nursing home.

If you want to age in place, the following are some issues you need to consider as part of your estate plan:

  • Calculate the costs, including the possible need for a visiting or live-in caretaker or nurse, along with any renovations you’d undertake to make your residence more friendly to changing health and lifestyle needs (such as accommodations for more limited mobility and ways to minimize the risk of falling).
  • Make plans for who would take charge of your medical decisions and manage your home in the event of your mental or physical incapacitation. If you want to lower the chances of going to a nursing home, you need to entrust your care to someone who understands your needs and will try as much as possible to keep you in your home environment.
  • Consider the implications of each financial decision. For example, if you opt for a reverse mortgage to help finance your continued stay at home, would your beneficiaries have to sell the home to pay off the mortgage after you pass away? (Meaning they might not inherit the home as you intend them to?)

Be sure to discuss your determination to age in place when you contact an estate planning attorney. Your attorney can review a wide variety of options with you and help you make the best decisions for yourself and your beneficiaries.