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Estate Litigation Articles

Common Questions Involving Estate Matters

If a person dies absent a living trust their estate is subject to probate by the court having jurisdiction over the person and their assets. Usually, the court will appoint a lawyer to oversee the probate and the disposition of the estate assets. Probate through the court system is costly and very inefficient for the distribution of estate property. Because of the costs of probate most persons develop an estate plan using a living trust. The living trust allows for the avoidance of any certain estate taxes upon death and the trust provides for the orderly disposition of estate assets upon the death of the trustor absent any intrusion by the court other than oversight to ensure the terms of the trust are met.

While a person is alive the court may appoint a conservator to act as a fiduciary for the person if they are incapable of taking care of their financial and personal affairs. The conservatorship can be over the person as well as their property. The conservator reports to the court through yearly reports as to the inventory of the assets of the person as well as how monies have been spent by the conservator. Normally, the conservator must post a bond to protect the person from any unauthorized acts.

Elder abuse is a developing area of the law devoted to the protection of the elderly who may be frail or subject to undue influence. The basic idea is to protect the elderly from predatory practices from family members or strangers.