When an individual is either a minor (under 18 years) or a disabled adult who cannot make decisions, a guardian may be appointed by a judge to make decisions for health care and asset management. Guardianships are intended to give assistance to a vulnerable person. Proper estate planning gives you the opportunity to identify individuals that you trust to take on that role if it becomes necessary. Without that planning, then it is up to the court to determine who plays that role. Guardianships are time consuming, expensive and can be avoided with Powers of Attorney. Absent those tools, Wick Elder Law has the experience to obtain the guardianship in periods of need.
When someone dies, death probate is a legal process through the court to obtain authority over the deceased’s property to carry out one’s last wishes. It can occur when there is no written estate plan in place. It also may happen with a Last Will and Testament. Probate law is a unique and complex field. If you are dealing with the distribution of a deceased ones assets, Wick Elder Law will bring clear direction and guide you to a quick resolution.
The guardian process is a way to protect vulnerable individuals by helping them to make health care decisions, financial assistance, and protection from undue influence. The process is only necessary when the individual is unable to make prompt and intelligent decisions for himself or herself. If an individual lacks the mental capacity to understand the nature and consequences of an action and is vulnerable, then a guardianship may be helpful. Like any legal action through the courts, it takes time. Unless there is an emergency, the process may take 30 to 60 days. Each situation is different.
Even if you have a Last Will, there is a real chance death probate will be required. All Wills are subject to the probate process, which is how your Executor gets the legal authority to sell your assets after death. It is an expensive and time consuming process. The only sure way to avoid this process is to have an estate plan that is comprehensive and utilizes Revocable Living Trusts. Each family has unique needs. Wick Elder Law reviews each situation, including family concerns and the asset you own in detail before making recommendations.
The probate process takes a minimum of 6 months, which is the time required by law to allow creditors the opportunity to make a claim against the assets in the estate. Only after the expiration of this time are the assets then available to the heirs.
If a loved one fails to properly plan using a Will or Trust before dying, then final distribution of the assets will be based upon several factors, including the type of property and how the property was owned at death. Without a clear, written direction using a Will or Trust, the State determines where the property should be distributed. This situation is called “intestate distribution” and may not follow one’s clear intention.