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Losing a loved one can be a devastating experience, but it is important to take steps to ensure their legacy is managed properly. One of the key aspects of this process is the administration of estates. This involves the distribution of assets and property, which can be done through a will or other legal means. It can be a complex process, but with the help of a qualified attorney, you can ensure that everything is done according to the law and your loved one's wishes.
Guardianships for Minor Children
If minor children inherit property or money, they will require a guardianship. This means that a responsible adult will be appointed to manage the child's assets until they reach the age of majority. The guardian will be responsible for making financial decisions on behalf of the child, such as investing their inheritance wisely and ensuring that their needs are met. The court will appoint the guardian based on the best interests of the child.
Conservatorships for Incapacitated Adults
Adults who are no longer capable of making decisions for themselves will require conservatorship. This means that a responsible person, often a family member or close friend, will be appointed to manage the individual's finances and personal affairs. The conservator will be responsible for paying bills, managing investments, and making medical decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person. The court will appoint the conservator based on the best interests of the individual.
Steps to Take After the Loss of a Loved One
When a loved one passes away, there are several important steps you should take to ensure their legacy is managed properly:
- Search for a last will and testament or trust. Any document that may be used to distribute property should be saved, including handwritten documents that may serve as a last will and testament.
- If you only find copies of the will or trust, search for any original documents or clues for places where the originals may be kept or stored. Store any documents in a safe place.
- Determine who should be responsible for the estate by following the instructions on the will or trust. If there is no will or trust, talk with the heirs of the individual to determine who should be appointed.
- Contact an attorney in the county where the individual resided at the time of passing to determine next steps. The attorney will help you navigate the legal requirements for administering the estate.
- Do not sell, remove, or distribute any items prior to legal consultation. This can cause legal problems and may result in assets being distributed in a way that goes against the wishes of the deceased.
Why Hire an Estate Planning Attorney?
While it may be tempting to try to handle the administration of an estate on your own, it is important to remember that there are legal requirements that must be followed. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you navigate the legal system and ensure that everything is done according to the law. They can also help you determine the best way to manage the estate and advise you on any tax consequences or other issues that may arise. Ultimately, hiring an attorney can give you much-needed peace of mind during a difficult time.
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