Time to get back to work, I am a Paralegal not a Lawyer. So this is in no way to be construed or taken for legal advice, so as before this is only legal information. Let’s not forget that when a layer or a paralegal becomes involved your problem becomes an ISSUE.
Picking up on Probate. Probate is a legal system focused on taking care of things after you die or if you become unable to look after yourself because of a major injury. Namely it takes care of who is in charge and how someone will handle your Will and take care of your Estate after you leave or if you become injured too. Simply put, Probate Law will make sure your wishes are followed and no one is cheated.
Right now I am focused on Living Wills. Living Wills deal with what you want to happen when bad things happen to you but you are still in the land of the living.
SIDE-NOTE: A Testamentary Will is a Will telling your loved ones what you want to happen after you leave this world. It is a legal document filed with your lawyer, or left with a loved one. Either after you leave or while you are still living it has been validated by the Probate Courts. This will cost your Estate $190. Once again this price can varies depending on which state you in. But not by very much.
Just so you know there are several different types of Wills. Such dealing with different types of problems and situations. I will try to explain the different types later on. However if you have any concerns about which Will you may need; Please God See a Lawyer!!
In my last Probate article I talked about Conservators. Now let’s talk about Guardians. The most well-known Guardianship involves children. In such a case you have made a Testamentary Will or a regular Will. In this Will you named someone you trust to look after your children A Guardian is very similar to a Conservator, except that a guardian has limitations for example a child guardianship has to be approved by the courts. There are several different types of Guardians in addition to child guardianship. Using the more common children guardianship as an example, you could assign someone to look after your kids and another person to look after any property or money you leave them. It depends on what part and or how much of your life you want your guardian to protect. Under a Living Will you can appoint Cousin Fred to look after your money and only your money and with the same Living Will you can appoint your mother to look after your kids. You can even appoint your 12 year old niece Harriet as Guardian for your beloved dog Niki.
Next week I will be talking more about Guardianship and about the Durable Power of Attorney. Just so you know you do not have to be an Attorney to have Durable Power of Attorney.
As you have probably have guessed this is going to be another opinion piece.
This Veteran’s day I have spent it watching news and television shows honoring Veterans. I saw stories of men and women black, white, brown and asain. Men and Women who when asked placed themselves at risk to protect our way of life. Even after finding out they were lied to by their leaders, finding out there was no threat kept their promise to our country and stayed on duty. Male and female soldiers grievously wounded but able to run away, who stayed and fought off deadly attacked to protect friends and fellow soldiers who could no longer protect themselves.
A White brother who gave up his life to protect a fallen Black brother. A Black sister who risked all to rescue a trapped Asian brother. A Brown brother who led the charge bringing relief to soldiers cut off. A pilot who risks death and court martial to fly into heavy enemy fire to rescue dying solders. A nurse who fights off an attack to protect wounded soldiers placed in her care. The rescue of an enemy child.
A pundit once said the first thing a real soldier gives up to survive combat is the ability to see skin color. The only color a true soldier who tasted combat can see is the green.
When you choose to become a soldier promises are made. Promises of help in finding a good paying job after you put away your gun. Promise of education to make your dream a reality. Promises of help in buying the home of your dreams. A promise that while you risk all for your country, your loved one and your children will be cared for. Promise that there will be help in making the educational dreams of your children real. Promises of help dealing with the physical pain of combat. Promise of help of adapting to the world after surviving your combat injuries. Promises of help in dealing with the emotional pain of war. Promises of help in living with the horrors of war.
Only to be told when you get off the plane and set down your weapon. All those promises your country made, ‘we will get around to them eventually. It may take 3 maybe 4 years for us to keep those promises but we will get to them. No worries.’ ‘In the mean time you are on your own.’
Then to be told “Thank you for your service you are such a hero.”
Now two or three years into patient waiting for those promises to be kept. With 1.6 million veterans and their families without medical insurance, 1.4 million veterans and their families now homeless. With millions more veteran families barely surviving on food stamps.
Now the Tea party republicans is the house of representatives who have never spent a day in uniform, never risked or worked for anything are saying ‘you know keeping those promises is going to cost just too much so we shouldn’t keep those promises’, ‘Oh yeah, food stamps cost too much money so we should cut food stamps but not the million dollar subsides to million dollar hobby famers. Those subsidies are just too important to cut sorry about that.”
Again, I am not a lawyer I am a paralegal. So this isn’t legal advice this is legal information. Also let us not forget when a lawyer or a paralegal becomes involved your problem becomes an issue.
All right let’s talk about Conservatorship, A Conservatorship does come under probate but a Conservator can also be appointed under Family Law. A Conservator is someone a probate court judge allows to have control over your medical, business, financial and personal affairs while you are laying there strapped into life support. Also a Conservator could be appointed if you have suffered such a severe head trauma that you, at least for the time being, have a hard time figuring out how to put your pants on. It is going to cost whoever asks for conservatorship $400 in filing fees. That doesn’t include support documentation an expert in going to have to sign off on. Most Conservators will have to hire an attorney to deal with the huge pile of legal issues that go with their job and that can really run up the legal bill. All of which is billed to and or reimbursed by your Estate. Additionally a Conservator literal has the right to sell your house and treasures without your okay. Unfortunately, there is very little you can do to get your stuff back if your conservator does rip you off if don’t have a Living Will/ Testament Will. On the flip side if a loved one becomes your conservator, he or she becomes responsible for all your debts. It is their job to see that all your bills get paid. This means that they will have access to all your banks accounts, social security payments any source of income you have. However, even after your loved one has been forced to empty your bank accounts and has sold everything of value you have to pay your bills, Debtors can still come after your loved one for any money you may still owe and take their money and or assets. Now if you manage to recover thing can become really difficult. Proving to the court you no longer need a ‘conservator’. You see if your ‘conservator’ fights you this will cost you in lawyer and court fees. Under Conservatorship getting access to your money to pay for a lawyer to help you get rid of the conservator is up to the conservator and or probate court.
Having a Living Will is the best and cheapest way to avoid most of this mess. With a Living Will you can appoint someone you totally trust to become your ‘Legal Guardian’ and or ‘Conservator’ if you become too ill to take care of your needs. A Living Will fully or validated in probate courts you can make sure that the Conservator and or Guardian appointed over you is protected and double sure they are someone you trust.
Under a straight Will there are executors. Executor is someone you have appointed to make sure your last wishes are carried out.
More on Probate coming next week.
Once again, I am not a lawyer I am a paralegal. So this is not intended to be legal advice only legal information. Also let’s not forget that when a lawyer or a paralegal becomes involved your problem or concern becomes an issue.
To get started there are two things I did not cover last week. Testate and Intestate. Being Testate is having a notarized Will and or a Living Will that is registered with the probate courts or at the very least left with a lawyer or a loved one. Intestate means you don’t have a Will. Let’s be honest dying without a Will will make things incredibly difficult for your loved ones.
There are some states like Colorado which accept what is commonly called Holographic Will. A Holographic Will is very easy to create and 20 times more difficult to use. To create a Holographic Will all you have to do is get a notebook write down your wishes sign it and leave it someplace where you hope that somebody you trust will find it. Once found your loved ones will have to get your Holographic Will validated in the probate courts.
In most states 2 witness signatures are needed to help validate a Will. There are some states that do require up to 3 signatures. .Someone who can give you a usable witness signature is someone who does not benefit from your Estate. The idea is these signatures will help prove that you created your Will without being forced too. Also that no one faked it, trying to rip off your Estate.
Okay, moving on the most important part of a validating your Will is getting the dumb thing registered. You can register you Will your local probate court system, Sometimes you may be asked to file your Will with the county recorder’s office. This will cost you about $67. The fee may be a little different depending where you live.
Now you do not have file your Will with the Probate Court before you leave. But, I can’t say this loud enough your Will must be somewhere it can be easily found. Like I said before you can leave your Will with your lawyer or a loved one. However after you die you’re Will must go through Probate Court to be validated.
SIDE-NOTE: Validation simply put is satisfying a judge that these are indeed your last wishes and instructions. That no one bamboozled you or forced you into creating your Will. You’d be surprised how many fools will submit phony Wills trying to rip off Estates.
Now having a Will validated proving testamentary of your Estate will cost $190 as of 2012. Oddly having your Estate proved Intestate or without a Will will cost your loved ones $150.
More Probate to come. You might be surprised how complex dying can be.