Estate planning can be difficult and confusing, but it doesn’t have to be with the right planning ahead of time. Here are answers to some basic questions. To explore these more in-depth contact me.

How do you name your executor?

First you’ll want to have a discussion with family and agree on the best person to best represent your interests and desires. An executor is a person named in your will, or appointed by the court, who is given the legal responsibility to care for your remaining financial obligations, if any. The executor’s responsible can include distributing assets according to the will, maintaining property until the estate is settled, such as keeping your house in order until sold), etc.

How does the probate process begin?

You, or your representative (either your attorney or an appointed family member) will file a petition with the probate court and give notice to heirs and beneficiaries.

What to do after a death occurs?

Contact close family and friends of the deceased, the deceased’s doctor (if a hospice is not involved), and the deceased’s lawyer, if any. If the deceased cared for dependents make sure arrangements are made for their care.

Look for any written instructions (sometimes called  “Letter of Instruction,” “Final Instructions,” or “Disposition Authorization”) for funeral or memorial service arrangements, and for burial or cremation arrangements. See if the deceased named a “Designated Agent” to take care of those arrangements (sometimes this is included in a Durable Power of Attorney, or in Living Will documents). If those aren’t found, ask close friends, the deceased’s doctor or the deceased’s lawyer about these documents.