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After the death of a family member or friend, the first step is to determine if the deceased individual had a Will or a Trust. In determining whether a Probate is necessary, or some other more simple and less expensive method can be used, it is necessary to evaluate how title is held to the assets, as well as evaluating the value and type of assets. Consulting with an attorney as soon as possible after a loved one has passed away is critical to make sure that everything is being handled correctly, with sensitivity to the interests of others, and mistakes are not made that will cause problems in the future.
Estates (including Probate & Summary Proceedings)
Probate courts were established to help ensure that all property and affairs are handled accordingly after a death. Probate is a very technical process in which attention to detail is key to making sure that it is done correctly and title to assets are transferred in a manner that will avoid problems in the future. Sometimes there is uncertainty in the intentions of a loved one that can be resolved through the probate court. Further, the probate court often will help settle issues that may arise concerning the manner in which a person is administering the estate. It is very important that you have a dedicated legal professional on your side to help keep you informed about these issues after losing a loved one.
A guardianship is an order by the court that is used to give custody of a child to someone other than a parent. Legal guardians have the same rights and responsibilities as a parent and are necessary if the parents pass away or it is determined that it would be detrimental or inappropriate for a parent to have custody of his or her child.
Legal guardians are responsible for all areas of the child’s care including but not limited to the child’s health, education, and financial support. The guardianship may last until the child reaches the age of eighteen or when the court terminates the guardianship to return the child to the parents. Establishing a guardianship for a minor child is an important and complex process. If you or someone you know needs professional assistance in naming a temporary or permanent guardian for a child, the attorneys at Zumbrunn Law Corporation can help.
Conservatorships are for adults who cannot take care of themselves or their finances. Filing for a conservatorship through the court allows another individual to be appointed and held as responsible for that person or their finances. When an adult has a conservatorship placed over them, they are referred to as a “conservatee”. This most often occurs when an adult suffers an accident, has a disability, or for an adult who becomes too ill or elderly to properly care for themselves and their financial responsibilities.
A conservator of the person allows another adult to be responsible for the conservatee’s physical needs, such as food, clothing, housing, medical care, personal care, and transportation.
A conservator of the person’s estate allows another adult to be responsible for and handle the conservatee’s finances. Those finances are utilized in order to completely care of the conservatee and any needs they may have. As part of their financial responsibility, the conservator must make sure the conservatee’s money is invested properly, all bills and taxes are paid, property and assets are protected, as well as maintain financial records, and provide the court with detailed, financial reports on a regular basis.
It is important to note that when someone is appointed a conservator of the person, it does not automatically make that person the conservator of the estate. In order to hold both positions, they must petition the court to be appointed as conservator of the person and the estate.