The probate process is used when loved ones die and they do not leave behind a will. Their assets are not immediately given out and their debts aren’t immediately paid off. Probate can last for years, and it can be a very costly and time-consuming process. It can be difficult to manage loved ones’ assets alone or even try to manage your own assets. Fortunately, there are resources available in assisting in the legal aspects. Attorney Aubrey Harry Ducker Jr. is offering this short guide on managing estate assets and how to get started.
What Is Probate and Probate Administration?
Most people have assets and debts at the time of their death. An individual’s “estate” are the assets and liabilities that they have. Every US state has its own set of laws governing what to do with the estate. During probate, the decedent’s debts must be paid off, as well as any taxes they owe. Probate is used when the decedent did not leave behind a trust. Probate is typically a simple and straightforward process. However, there are circumstances where family members are able to dispute the validity of a will or object to the family member’s state of mind. When disputes occur, they need to be handled in a professional manner by an experienced attorney.
Terms Related to The Probate Process
- Will – A will determines where your assets will be distributed. Your assets include possessions such as your home, car, bank accounts, or personal possessions.
- Living Will – This is also known as an “advance directive”. It provides guidance to the individual making medical decisions about what you would want to certain situations. For instance, under what circumstances would you want to be kept alive with a ventilator or a feeding tube.
- Trust – A living trust allows you to pass on assets without going through the public probate process and allows someone else to manage your assets if you become incapacitated. You are your own trustee, but you can also appoint a successor trustee to take over if needed.
- Administrator – The individual who is charged with disposing of a deceased’s estate if that person died without a will.
- Estate Taxes – These are taxes that the government levies in the process of property transferred after death
- Executor – The Individual who ensures that the estate is disposed of according to the decedent’s wishes. When you create a will, an individual will need to choose someone to carry out their wishes. Most of the time, an estate can be handled by a friend or relative with the help of an estate lawyer.
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The process of probate begins by filing a will in probate court. If there are no disputes or objectification to the will, the named executor or personal representative will pay the debts of the estate and distribute leftover assets to any beneficiaries. Probate can take up between 3-8% of the total assets left behind in a will (excluding taxes). An experienced attorney will help to reduce of costs of probate in court. An attorney who specializes in probate administration can help resolve disputes or conflicts that may arise during the process.
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Accounts for Managing Assets
Having an account is beneficial for managing assets and it’s recommended that you open an account in the name of an estate or trust. A basic checking account can be enough to get you through the probate process. If the trust has to be managed over the long term, it is recommended that an account is set up to handle both investments and cash. This account will contain all the fund’s from the decedent’s bank accounts and income created by estate assets.
Managing A Decedent’s Assets
- Home or Vacation Home – when managing a decedent’s real estate, it is advised that security measures are taken to protect the property if it is vacant. You will also need to keep up with maintenance, home owner’s insurance, and mortgage payments
- Vehicles – the decedent’s vehicles must be managed including loan payments and handling regular maintenance.
- Money and Investments – When a bank account is opened for the estate, any of the existing decedent’s bank accounts should be closed and the remainder of the funds should be transferred to the new account. Any stray cash should be placed in a sealed envelope and placed in a safe place.
Spending Down Assets
In order to apply for coverage, Medicaid has strict rules that require applicants to “spend down” their assets before they qualify for coverage. Individuals must be conscientious of what they spend money on. To be eligible for Medicaid, applicants must have no more than $2000 “countable assets”. A Medicaid applicant is able to spend money on the following:
- Prepaying funeral expenses
- Making repairs to a home
- Paying off a mortgage, car loan, or credit card debts
- Pay for medical care and equipment
- Pay for more care at home
What are some permissible ways to spend down my assets? In Medicaid planning, “spending down” assets are important. Working With An Attorney On Managing Estate Assets Estate planning is a serious business. One wrong word or missing signature can the intent and power of a will or trust.
An Attorney who specializes in probate or estate planning can assist in sorting out complex legal documents or matters. Your attorney can also sort out any family conflicts or objectification that may arise. Most importantly, estate planning attorneys understand the state law, which dictates estate plans. If you or a loved one are not familiar with Florida state laws, it could be difficult to navigate on your own.
Orlando Estate Law Attorney Aubrey Harry Ducker Jr.
We understand how simple estate planning mistakes or omissions can quickly turn into a disaster, resulting in litigation or probate. Aiming to help our clients avoid common estate planning errors. Thus protecting their assets. Affecting the efficient transfer of assets to the intended beneficiaries.
If you are dealing with any type of family law case, contact Attorney Aubrey Harry Ducker Jr. to discuss how our attorneys can help you with your Trust Administration & Litigation, Probate Administration & Litigation, and Collaborative Divorce case. Call us at (407) 647-7887 or send us a message. Also, you can visit the offices of Attorney Aubrey Ducker Jr. Aubrey Ducker Jr. serves Orlando and surrounding areas.