What is Probate?

Probate sounds like a big scary word and often times can intimidate people. Probate is simply the legal process of distributing assets according to the Last Will & Testament of the Testator (person who created the will). The person that has this job is the executor of the estate listed in the Will. The executor has the responsibility of petitioning (asking the court) for authority to follow the terms listed in the Testator’s will. When a person passes away with a Will, the Will needs to be proven to the Surrogates Court of New York that the will is valid. The Probate of a will in Surrogates court is jurisdictional and the assistance of a qualified estate attorney is extremely valuable.

There are three phases to the probate process. The first phase is to get the person listed as executor in the Will appointed legally as executor. The second step is to marshal assets and pay debts of the testator. The third and final step is distribution according to the Will and closing of the estate. In the coming weeks we will discuss each step in further detail.

For more  information about Probate and Ira K. Miller Associates Elder Law services in Brooklyn feel free to give us a call at 718-875-2191 or fill out a contact form.

What is a Healthcare Proxy?

A proper estate plan does not just include a will but also includes a healthcare proxy and a durable power of attorney. The healthcare proxy and durable power of attorney are documents that can be used in the event of your incapacity. A healthcare proxy is a legal instrument that gives your agent the authority to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to. This document can be very important in the event you become incapacitated or unable to provide the doctor with direction. Only one agent can be listed as the primary agent on a healthcare proxy as the doctor does not want disputes as to your healthcare decisions. An alternate agent may be listed on your healthcare proxy if your first agent is unavailable to make decisions for you.

Your agent should be informed on end of life decisions such as life support and artificial nutrition and hydration. Attached to many healthcare proxies are living wills that provide guidance to your agents on these wishes. The healthcare proxy should be kept with your agent in an easily accessible location. Do not keep healthcare proxies in safety deposit boxes as banks may be closed when you need this document. A healthcare proxy is an important document necessary to ensure that your healthcare wishes and decisions are carried out by someone that you trust if you are unable to provide the doctors with guidance.

For more information about estate planning and healthcare proxies please give us a call at (718) 875-2191 or fill out a contact form.