If you’ve been appointed as executor of someone’s estate, you’re tasked with filing the will and opening a probate case when that individual passes away. But what happens if you do not probate a will? Perhaps you’ve changed your mind about serving as executor or you simply have other, more pressing priorities to manage. You might wonder if you can skip a lengthy probate process and settle the deceased’s estate on your own. Unfortunately, the answer is usually no.
Category: Elder Law
The end-of-life plan is your time to establish your legacy and shoulder the burden of difficult decisions — so your loved ones won’t have to. Those decisions involve your health care, your financial assets and liabilities, your funeral arrangements, and, the culmination of these, your overall estate plan. This checklist walks you through end-of-life discussion points on all four topics and summarizes the key end-of-life planning documents you may need.
What’s the greatest legacy you can leave behind? Some would argue that it’s a solid estate plan. Designating your beneficiaries in a will or a living trust could be the final gift that’s most appreciated by your heirs. If you cast your last farewell without any property transfer instructions, your estate will be divvied up according to state law in probate court. Probate court is notoriously tedious and stressful, and only partly because those involved are also grieving the loss of a loved one.
You might remember your folks helping you open your first bank account and write your first check. And while that was a long time ago, you may not be ready for those roles to reverse, with you taking the financial lead for your parents. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon that a parent would need an adult child’s help managing the finances, particularly if that parent starts to lose mental sharpness or the ability to make logical decisions.
Your vision for your senior years might involve sunny mornings on the golf course, bridge parties with friends, and relaxing walks through nature. And while you should seek out those carefree activities, recent economic events remind us that it’s important to keep an eye on the practical matters, too. Those practical matters include your finances and estate, of course, but also your health.
Your folks clothed you, bandaged your skinned knees, and fed you dinner for years. And now, it may be time to return the favor, figuratively anyway. Did you know that some states make it your legal responsibility to support your parents financially? It’s true, and without some proactive planning, you may be at risk of footing the bill for your parents’ high-dollar medical debt.
You wouldn’t hire an accountant to fix your car, or a mechanic to prepare your tax returns. By the same token, a general practice attorney isn’t the best choice for legal matters involving the seniors in your life. The better choice is an elder law attorney, who specializes in legal issues that arise for seniors and their families.