Court involvement in your estate can become costly and time-consuming. Your assets are exactly that, yours. Having your property and situation discussed in a public forum is probably not an attractive thought.
Most people do not want the court involved in their lives to distribute their assets and erode their estate. Fortunately, you can take steps to keep the court out of your life.
Court Interference 101
The two most frequent ways that a court gets involved: guardianship/conservatorship and probate.
Guardianship and Conservatorship
If you are ever unable to make medical or financial decisions for yourself, a guardianship allows someone to make medical decisions for you and a conservatorship does the same for financial decisions. The court appoints someone to fill these roles, and your guardian/conservator is supervised by the court until you regain capacity, if at all.
After you die, and if you have a will or no estate plan, your estate will be probated under the court’s supervision. This is a public process and is when your property is given to your loved ones, your debts are paid, and your final business is completed.
Free your estate from interference
Fortunately, you can avoid court interference with ample legal preparation.
1. Powers of attorney
Powers of attorney are documents that allows you to appoint medical or financial agents to act for you in the event of incapacity. You have the final say over who your agent is and you decide the powers and authorities they have to act for you. Properly done, powers of attorney make it unnecessary for loved ones to apply to a court for a guardianship or conservatorship.
Trusts are legal documents that allow you to control your assets during health, incapacity, and after death. Trusts allow for a continuous ownership of your assets through all parts of life. There are many different kinds of trusts that do different things, so working with an estate planning attorney is essential to choosing the right trust. If you properly put your property into your trust, your estate will avoid probate. You are also making sure that your assets will go to the correct beneficiaries and that you can change your estate plan as life changes.
Make sure your estate plan is air-tight
These decisions are not simple ones, and they can have long-lasting effects. Nor are they all of an estate plan. An estate planning attorney will know what options are best for you and your family and walk you through the decision-making process. They can help you protect your property and provide for your loved ones.