If you are considering setting up a trust, you are most likely wondering how much it will cost you. Unfortunately, the standard lawyer answer is “it depends.”
Hopefully, you recognize the issue before it’s too late to pre-plan. The time to seriously review all of a loved one's financial and estate planning affairs is in the early stages of Dementia or Alzheimer's. Progression of the degree of incapacity varies from person to person. Obviously, a visit to a physician for a diagnosis and treatment plan should be your first priority. Then a visit to an attorney should be next.
Pre-planning is necessary to avoid needing a guardianship. People live much longer these days, and Dementia and Alzheimers are a common issue families face with loved ones or themselves. Pre-planning to deal with incapacity is very smart.
Failing to pre-plan means that it may be necessary to open a court-administered guardianship. This proceeding is very complicated, time consuming, and expensive. The time to avoid all this is before you or your loved one becomes incapacitated. If you are your loved one are already incompetent, it is too late! Guardianship is the only option then.
This blog is part two of What Do I Do If A Loved One Dies Without A Will. Part One discussed an Application To Determine Heirship proceeding, the more formal court proceeding to determine heirs and order transfer of property. Sometimes, we determine after a review of the assets of the deceased loved one that a more informal, less expensive “Affidavit Of Heirship” would be sufficient. It is not always certain that third parties will accept the informal “Affidavit,” but because it is so much less expensive than the formal court proceeding, it may be worth trying this first.
Unfortunately, I get this call many times every day. If the property in the estate does not exceed the value of $75,000, not including the value of a homestead, a court proceeding called a “small estate affidavit” can sometimes be used. However, in most situations, this very simplified proceeding cannot be used. In those situations, there are generally are two options.
Which of these two options will be best varies with each situation, depending on the types of assets owned and the third parties who will be required to transfer the assets. Some third parties only will accept the court proceeding. Commonly, this could be brokerages and insurance companies. However, many third parties will accept the less expensive Affidavit of Heirship. Even title companies routinely accept an Affidavit of Heirship to transfer title to real estate unless there is a very large amount of money involved.
This is part one of What Do I Do If A Loved One Dies Without A Will? Here I will discuss the more formal application for determination of heirship.
Most young parents don’t want to even think about the possibility of death and see no need for estate planning. However, if a tragedy struck and both parents of minor children were killed, the situation left for their loved ones to deal with is extremely complicated, expensive, and emotional.
Sometimes, if your loved one has no assets that are not already disposed of by beneficiary designation or payable on death provisions, there is no need to probate a will. This frequently happens if they had already sold their home and were residing in a nursing home, and the only assets they still owned were liquid assets.