Estate Planning / Probate

Creating an Estate Plan will protect your interests and your loved ones in the event of death or incapacitation. For many clients, the process of developing an estate plan can be quite simple. For others, particularly those with significant assets or complex family dynamics, the estate planning can be complex. In either event it is important to speak with an experienced attorney to ensure that your objectives are met. At Clemens, Walters, Conlon, Runde & Hiatt L.L.P. our lawyers will work with you to fully explore your circumstances and to provide you with options that address the unique needs of you and your family. Our goal is help you articulate your wishes, reduce those wishes to writing and provide your designated executors, trustees and beneficiaries’ guidance as to how to ensure your wishes are carried out.

The attorneys at Clemens, Walters, Conlon, Runde & Hiatt L.L.P. will work with you to develop a customized plan to meet your needs. The basic tools that each family should consider having include the following: Last Will and Testaments, Healthcare Powers of Attorney, Financial Powers of Attorney, Financial Inventories and Revocable Living Trusts. Tools that may be appropriate in more complex situations, particularly for families with business holdings, investments and other properties, include, but are certainly not limited to: insurance trusts, charitable trusts, succession planning, business entity planning and specialized estate documents. The attorneys at Clemens, Walters, Conlon, Runde & Hiatt L.L.P. are an invaluable member of your team for developing an estate plan that best meets with your needs.

Probate is an area of the law that is intricately linked with estate planning. Probate is a court managed proceeding where assets are retitled and distributed according to a Will or the law of intestacy (a situation wherein a person has passed away without a will). The attorneys at Clemens, Walters, Conlon, Runde & Hiatt L.L.P. will work with the family of a deceased individual to identity the steps to be taken to ensure that assets are retitled and distributed in accordance to the decedent’s plan. In some circumstances that may be accomplished using transfer on death provisions, beneficiary designations, affidavits of transfer or other simple means of transferring assets. In other circumstances it may involve the process of distributing assets out of a trust or through the probate of an estate.

Each probate of an estate is unique, but generally will include the following steps: (1) locating and filing the Last Will and Testament with the local court and/or advising the court that no will has been identified; (2) Filing a Petition for Appointment of Executor or Administrator of the estate and all accompanying documentation; (3) Obtaining an Order Appointing an Executor or Administrator to act on behalf of the estate; (4) Locating, inventorying, and taking custody of the personal assets of the decedent and filing a report with the court regarding such; (5) Paying debts and expenses associated with the last sickness and burial; (6) Ascertaining and notifying all known creditors of the estate, receiving and processing claims against the estate, and ultimately making payment to creditors, discharging obligations and obtaining creditor releases; (7) Selling and liquating assets of the decedent; (8) Filing appropriate inheritance, state and federal tax returns; (9) Preparing and distributing final accounting and reports to beneficiaries and heirs; and (10) Arranging for distribution of bequests to heirs and beneficiaries and providing a complete accounting to the local court. The process of probating a simple estate generally takes 9 months to a year. That time frame can be shortened or lengthened depending on the unique situation. The steps to be taken upon the death of a loved one can be complicated but you do not have to go through this process alone. The attorneys here at Clemens, Walters, Conlon, Runde & Hiatt L.L.P. are available to guide you and your family through these steps and will do so with both sensitivity and compassion.