What is Estate Planning?
Estate Planning is a process that an individual may pursue to ensure that his/her last wishes are carried out. It includes the preparation of a Last Will and Testament, which directs a person's named Executor/trix how to manage his/her estate finances and to whom that person wishes his/her assets to be given to upon death and necessary probate of their estate. It can develop a trust to manage larger assets and avoid the probate process altogether. Finally, it can also include the strategic development of joint-tenancy property deeds and accounts, which also help avoid some of the catches in the probate process and aid in tax relief.
What is an Estate?
An Estate includes all assets and debts of a decedent at the time of death. In order to resolve an Estate, one must follow the process of probate. It is important to remember that no assets can be transferred to the respective beneficiaries without following the probate process. It is also important to know that a Last Will and Testament is not a requirement to probate an Estate.
What is a Guardianship?
A Guardianship is a multi-step, on-going process that is meant to protect the physical and monetary interests of the person for whom a guardianship is sought. This process should be pursued by an attorney through the Probate Court of the county which the ward is a resident. The ward can either be a minor (under the age of 18) or someone deemed to be incompetent (someone diagnosed by a physician to be physically and/or mentally incapable of caring for themselves). The court-appointed guardian must report on a regular basis to the Probate Court, the financial and/or physical status of the ward.
What is Probate?