Estate planning no longer consists only of the disposition of a person’s estate on death. Today, a well-established estate plan addresses issues such as the management of your assets if you cannot do so because of incompetency or incapacity; the ability of someone to make personal care decisions and medical decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions yourself; providing for a child or grandchild who has special needs; providing for agents to act on your behalf if you are out of the state or out of the country; and the disposition of your assets in the most efficient and economical manner at death. Estate planning services provided by the Law Offices of Melvin K. Rube include analyzing your current estate planning documents to determine if your estate plan meets your current objectives; the establishment of an estate plan based on information about you, your objectives, your family, your intended beneficiaries, your existing legal relationships and the nature and extent of your estate; and the preparation of the legal documents necessary to carry out your objectives. Such documents would include simple wills and complex wills, testamentary trusts, simple and complex revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, inherited IRA trusts, first party and third party special needs trusts established for people receiving public benefits, durable powers of attorney, health care directives and all other related trust and estate documents.
Probate refers to the entire process of a court supervised administration of a decedent’s estate whether the decedent died with or without a will. If the decedent died with a will, the court first determines the legal validity of the will. If the will is found valid, the court then appoints the person nominated in the will as the personal representative. If a person dies without a will, the court appoints the personal representative. The personal representative then is responsible for collecting all of decedent’s property, paying all of decedent’s bills and necessary taxes and then distributing decedent’s property according to decedent’s legally valid will or the laws of intestate succession. Fees paid to the attorney for the estate and to the personal representative are set by statute and must be approved by the court and are paid at the conclusion of the probate.
Trust administration generally involves the fiduciary duty of a trustee to carry out the terms of the trust for the benefit of a trust beneficiary. The more common duties of a trustee are to distribute income and principal to the beneficiary as directed by the trust document; safeguard, manage and maintain trust property; make trust property productive; invest trust assets according to the Prudent Investor Rule; and to provide the beneficiary with an annual accounting of the trustee’s management of trust assets, which would generally include an itemization of all trust income, disbursements, distributions, gains and losses on the sale of trust property and an itemization of all trust assets as of the beginning and ending date of the accounting period.
Trust and probate litigation arises out of issues common to both the administration of a probate estate and the administration of a trust. The more common issues involve challenges to the legal validity of a will, codicil, trust or trust amendment based on allegations of undue influence or fraud used to procure said documents or the incompetency of the testator or settlor in executing those documents; the right to inherit under a will, codicil, trust or trust amendment; the interpretation of a will, codicil, trust or trust amendment; objections to an accounting prepared by the personal representative or the trustee; or a legal challenge to remove a personal representative or trustee because of asset mismanagement or breach of the fiduciary duty. Trust and probate litigation can also involve issues arising out of the physical and/or financial abuse of elders. The Law Office of Melvin K. Rube represents personal representatives and beneficiaries in probate cases, trustees and beneficiaries in trust cases and petitioners and respondents in elder abuse cases.