Many people do not realize that probate courts handle more things than just wills and can’t always be avoided, according to WLTX19 in "Man spends thousands in probate costs to help wife with dementia."
Consider the case of one elderly couple in Arizona. The wife suffers from dementia. She had a modest retirement account of $25,000. Her husband wanted to withdraw funds from the account to pay her medical bills. Before he could do that, he had to go through probate court to be appointed his wife's guardian and conservator. In the process, he incurred $6,000 in attorney's fees. In California this would be a Conservator of the Estate and fees would be around the same. Also, in California, the first year then every other year, the husband would have to file an accounting with the court regarding the funds he spent from the account causing additional legal fees to be incurred.
This unfortunate situation can often be avoided. Estate planning attorneys do more than just help their clients' estates avoid probate, after the clients pass away. They also help people plan for end-of-life care and what will happen should they ever become incapacitated and can no longer look after their own affairs.
An estate planning attorney can prepare a general durable power of attorney for you, that allows you to appoint someone to handle your finances, if necessary, when you become incapacitated and avoids court involvement. We recommend every adult have a general durable power of attorney and an advanced health care care directive so the person of your choice can manage your affairs if you are unable to. Adding a will and/or trust to the plan depends on the specific assets and circumstances.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
Reference: WLTX19 (Feb. 15, 2018) "Man spends thousands in probate costs to help wife with dementia."