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Who Are The Necessary Parties Involved In An Estate Plan?

The Personal Representative is the person charged with distributing the decedent’s estate after his or her death. He or she must pay the valid claims of creditors, file any needed tax returns and distribute assets to the beneficiaries. If we create a trust or if the will has some trust provisions in it, a trustee might also be identified and that person has ongoing duties to distribute funds to the beneficiaries.

The Healthcare Surrogate is charged with making healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. Sometimes the Healthcare Surrogate must make a decision as to whether life support should or should not be removed. Another important role is that of a guardian to minor children. If a child’s parents both pass away, the estate plan should identify who will take responsibility for any minor children that are left behind.

What Does The Personal Representative Have To Do To Settle The Estate?

If the decedent had a Will, the Personal Representative must bring the Will to court in the county where the decedent passed away. Then, the Personal Representative will ask the court to admit the Will to probate and to issue Letters of Administration. The Letters of Administration are a court order that gives the Personal Representative the authority to manage the affairs of the estate of the decedent. Once that is done, the Personal Representative will identify all of the beneficiaries, identify all of the decedent’s assets, and gather those assets to make sure they are secure. The Personal Representative will identify the decedent’s creditors and serve them with a Notice to Creditors giving those creditors the opportunity to make claims against the estate of the deceased.

If creditors do make claims against the estate, the Personal Representative will decide whether to pay those claims or object to them. Once the claims have been disposed of, the Personal Representative may need to file tax returns and deal with any remaining tax liabilities of the decedent. Then, the Personal Representative will make distributions to the decedent’s beneficiaries. Finally, the Personal Representative will ask to be released by the court and estate administration ends.

What Are The Basic Constituents Of An Estate Plan?

The Last Will and Testament is a document that sets forth how someone wants his or her assets to be distributed after death. It identifies the Personal Representative. If there are minor children, it will identify who should be the guardian for those children. Sometimes a person’s Will includes provisions for money to be held in a testamentary trust. Another document that we prepare is a Durable Power of Attorney. This is a document that authorizes a family member or trusted advisor to manage your personal business for you should you be incapacitated and unable to manage it yourself.

There are a series of documents related to healthcare that we prepare. A Living Will is a document that sets forth your wishes should you be unable to make decisions for yourself and suffer from a terminal condition, an end-stage condition or a permanent vegetative state. I find that most of my clients wish that if they were ever unfortunate enough to find themselves in such a situation, they would want life sustaining measures to be discontinued and to be able to die peaceably with medication given for pain management only. The Living Will sets forth those wishes. The second document in that series is the Designation of Healthcare Surrogate that appoints someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.

The third is a document called a HIPAA Authorization. That is a document that authorizes the release of your medical records to the decision makers so that they can be informed when they are making choices. A Designation Naming Preneed Guardian for Adult is a document that lets you choose someone who would be your legal guardian should you ever need one.

This document is very important because I often find that if a guardian is needed, but family members disagree as to whom should serve as guardian, the court will appoint a professional guardian, even though the incapacitated person would have preferred a family member take that role. The Designation Naming Preneed Guardian lets clients express that choice before they become incapacitated.

For more information on Parties Involved in an Estate Plan, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling Kovar Law Group at 727-827-7777 today.’

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