Areas of Practice
Estate planning is for everyone – it's a way of caring for your loved ones, seeing that they are provided for, and making sure your hard-earned property is distributed according to your wishes. Learn what you need to do to save money and assure that your plans are carried out exactly as you wish.
Your estate consists of all your property, including:
- Your home and other real estate
- Tangible personal property such as cars and furniture
- Intangible property like insurance, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, and pension and social security benefits
- Any ownership interest you may have in a local business
- An estate plan is your blueprint for where you want your property to go after you die
Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament is a legal document that provides your wishes to be followed after your death. A will controls the division of your individually owned assets and appoints guardians for children. In your will an executor is nominated to manage the distribution of those assets. If you die without a will or a trust, your assets will be distributed by the law of intestacy – basically the state decides who inherits your money. A will ensures that your individually owned assets go to the individuals that you want.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney allows you to appoint an agent to act in your place for any financial or legal transaction. A general durable power of attorney grants the agent power to act on your behalf as soon as you sign and the agent’s power continues if you are incapacitated.
You can specify that your agent only has power if you are incapacitated. The agent will then have an obligation to ensure that they represent your best interests. Should you become incapacitated and not have a power of attorney, your family would have to file a court proceeding called an Adjudication of Incompetence. This process can cost thousands of dollars – and can be completely avoided by having a power of attorney. A health care power of attorney designates your health care agent to make health care decisions if you are unable to and to be certain your wishes are carried out after you die.
A trust is a legal entity that manages your assets during your life and after your death. It provides a means of managing your affairs if you become disabled. It allows your estate to avoid probate. It can be difficult to conceptually grasp the concept of a trust; the best way to understand a trust is to think of it as a company. The person who starts the trust is the settlor, in a business this would be the investor. The person who runs the trust is the trustee, in business this would be the CEO or president. The person who receives money from the trust is the beneficiary, in a business this would be the customer receiving services or the owners receiving money back from the company. One person can be the settlor, trustee and beneficiary of a trust. Trusts allow people to avoid probate, preserve money for their children, and in some cases protect against creditors and estate taxes, and avoid having the nursing home take your money.
When someone passes away with or without a will, the administration process must begin. Once we have had a meeting with you and discuss any issues surrounding the estate, we will start taking necessary steps on your behalf, including but not limited to:
- Determining the best steps to take
- Completing the application
- Filing the correct documents
- Admitting the will to probate
- Appointing the correct representative
At David C. Francisco, Attorney at Law, we will be with you through the entire process. From the start of transferring assets to the actual distribution of property, we will be here to answer any questions you may have. We will also be on hand to ensure creditors follow the right procedures when making any claims, in order to save you money.
Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail.