Areas of Practice
Estate Planning and Probate
Estate planning generally describes the process of planning for the management and disposal of a person's assets during and at or after death, including planning for incapacity. It most commonly includes the drafting of wills, trusts, and powers of attorney, but may also include guardianships for disabled adults, transferring title to assets, making gifts, and other efforts to eliminate uncertainty while maximizing the value of a person's estate. The actions taken by an attorney are driven by the client's specific goals, and may be as simple or as comlex as the client's needs dictate.
Probate is a court supervised process by which a person's estate is administered after death. By filing a petition with the court, the decedent's will is admitted to probate, an executor is appointed, and the process of managing and disposing of the decedent's assets begins. The decedent’s assets are collected, creditors are paid, and the remaining assets are distributed according to the terms of the will. Our attorneys at Statham & Long, LLC, have years of experience handling estates both large and small, from hundreds of dollars to millions of dollars, and can expertly guide you through the process.
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Power of Attorney/Advance Directives
These documents direct what will happen to a person's estate and in relation to their personal care if the person becomes legally incapacitated. A health care power of attorney nominates an agent to make health care decisions for you, while a property power of attorney nominates an agent to handle your financial affairs. Other common documents include living wills and guardian designations.
Trusts are most often used to direct the distribution of assets after death. However, most trusts include provisions regarding incapacity, allowing for the management of a person's assets during their life. A distinct advantage of a trust is that it may be used to provide for the distribution of funds for the benefit of minor children or developmentally disabled children (a "special needs" trust). Trusts offer a high degree of control over the management and disposition of assets, and can allow for the protection of wealth for several generations after a person's death.
As it is the simplest device for planning the distribution of an estate after death, wills are the most common estate planning document. Simply put, a will directs how your property is to be distributed after your death, and nominates a person, called an executor, to supervise the process. Most jurisdictions have specific requirements for the execution of a will, and you should consult with an attorney regarding the formal requirements.
For further information regarding Estate Planning and Probate, or any other matter, please call us today.