How is a person picked to manage a deceased estate?

  • Will can designate, or
  • Person may have priority under the law, the spouse first, if no spouse, then the child of the deceased. (If more than one child, they all stand in equal position) or
  • ¬†Agreement between the interested partners, or if no agreement, judge will appoint

Can a person use a power of attorney to take a person’s assets after they have died?

No, a power of attorney is invalid once the person who gave it dies.

Can a person use a power of attorney to take a person’s assets while they are alive?

No, a power of attorney is used to assist and help a person with their financial affairs, not to take assets to benefit themselves.

What is a will?

A written document, serving as a letter of instruction to advise the court once a person has died, who should receive certain assets.

Must a will always be type written and signed by two witnesses to be valid?

No, a holographic will is a document which can be handwritten signed and dated, by the person who died.

What happens when a person dies without a will, but leaves property in their name?

The probate court follows the state law which gives priority on who gets what. A spouse would have first priority, the natural born children would then have priority, if there is no spouse, the priorities then continue under the “intestacy statute”.

 What are jointly held assets?

Assets (property) that is owned by more than one person. Merely holding something “joint” does not always mean the property will belong to the survivor. When titling something “joint”, it should also say “joint tenants with rights of survivorship”, to insure that the survivor owns 100% of the asset.

What is probate?

The process through which assets of someone who has died are administrated through a court and over-seen by a judge, both for people who died with a will or without a will. It includes gathering the assets, paying the creditors, and eventually distributing money to heirs.

What is “tenants in common”?

It is a form of ownership that allows the share of the person who dies, to be passed on to his or her estate.

Will and Trust Contests

A legal proceeding (in probate court) where someone challenges the validity of a will or trust.

What is a trust?

A legal document created by a “settlor” that manages property on behalf of one or more persons, whether living or deceased.

What is a trustee?

It is a person or persons appointed by the creator of the trust, to manage the affairs of the trust and follow the wishes of the trust creator.

What is an “Undue Influence” challenge?

When someone exerts coercion, deceit, force or trickery to compel or force someone to do or sign something that they normally would not.

What is a Codicil/Amendment?

A codicil or an amendment is a written modification to either a will or a trust.

What is a testamentary capacity?

Does the person who is signing the legal document such as a will or trust, have the mental capability to sufficiently understand what they are signing.