Bankhead Law Firm can help you plan for the future by providing assistance with the various documents and stages of the estate planning process, including drafting wills and trusts, preparing healthcare powers of attorney in the event of incapacity, and probate administration and litigation.
Whether you have a specific plan in mind or would like to discuss the alternatives available for your needs and situation, Bankhead Law Firm will be happy to meet with you, guide you through the process, and help you meet your goals.
Health Care Power of Attorney
A health care power of attorney is a document in which you appoint someone who is allowed to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event that you become physically or mentally incapacitated and are unable to make those decisions yourself.
Wills and Trusts
A will allows you to designate how your property will be distributed after you die and to appoint the person who is to make sure your wishes are carried out. When a person dies without a will, state law determines how and to whom that person’s assets are distributed. When a person makes a will, it has no legal authority until the person’s death, and it is revocable at any time during his or her lifetime.
A trust also allows you to determine how your estate will be managed in the event of your death. There are many different kinds of trusts – living or testamentary, revocable or irrevocable. A trust, as opposed to a will, can allow your family to avoid probate after your death by transferring your property through the trust rather than by will
Probate Administration and Litigation
When a person dies leaving a Last Will and Testament, the will must be presented to the court for probate. If the will is not contested, the probate process involves petitioning the court to open the estate, serving notice to creditors and allowing 90 days for any claims against the estate, paying debts and distributing the remainder of the estate, and finally closing the estate. This process can be straightforward, but it can also present challenges.
If a will is contested, litigation may be required. A will contest operates similar to a lawsuit in which both sides present their cases, and the judge, or the jury if one is requested, decides whether to uphold the will or find it invalid. A will may be contested for several reasons, including that the testator lacked the necessary mental capacity at the time the will was made, that the testator made the will under the undue influence of another person, or that a holographic, or handwritten, will is not the true will of the testator, in which case the deceased’s handwriting must be proven. Only a person who has an interest in the deceased’s estate may contest the will.