Living Wills

Here we are yet again. I am a paralegal not a lawyer so this is in no way to be taken as legal advice this is meant to be legal information only. Just so you know when a lawyer or a paralegal becomes involved your problem become an Issue.

Next on my list is Living Wills which is also called an advanced medical directive.  You see a Living Will is all about what you want to happen while you are still alive and can’t speak for yourself.  You see a Living Will deals with what happens to your money, your kids, to your house and most importantly how you want to be taken care of while you are mentally out of the game.  Let’s not kid around you are going to be very busy fighting for your life to take care of small things. Like what bills get paid and who is feeding your dog.

Let’s start with you are on life supports, a Living Will lets your loved ones know how your doctors can keep you attached to those god awful machines before they have let you go.  If you have advanced cancer you can limit how much your family can do to keep you alive if you have a heart attack

Or say you find certain medical treatments go against your religious beliefs, with a Living Will, on file you can prevent your doctor or some well-meaning loved one from letting those treatments being done, if you are out of it.

A Living will also get covers who you have assigned a Health Care power of attorney or more importantly a Durable power of attorney too. Power of attorney Covering who you want making medical decisions while you are out of it. Including who you want to take care of your assets and more importantly who is taking care your children.

To repeat myself, the more you have in ASSETS, CHILDREN CONCERNS AND BUSINESS OPERATIONS THE MORE YOU NEED A LAWYER.

SIDE-NOT: If you have underage children and the other parent is unable or to be polite unqualified to take them. I can’t say this loud enough you need to set up an assigned guardianship for you children set up. Otherwise your Kids could be given to the 1st blood relative to claim them or the state will get them. If the state gets them it could cost your blood relative a small fortune to get them back.

SIDE-NOTE; An Asset in the legal world is anything such as a house, car, jewelry, bank accounts or stocks and bonds. Say you have written a book and it sells fairly well. It can be anything as long as it has a money value attached to it.

Just so you know a Living Will must be witnessed by your current primary doctor and if you are fighting a possibly terminal illness it has to be co-signed by the doctor in charge   of helping you fight your illness.

Unfortunately the rules and regulations for validating Living Will can and do differ from state to state.

Probate 2

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.

Probate Court Costs

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.