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Proper Estate Planning to Avoid Litigation

by in Los Angeles Estate Planning Attorney Blog on 13 May, 2014 with 0 Comments

One of the many benefits that proper estate planning provides someone is the ability to avoid costly litigation, which sucks up resources that could have been retained if planning was properly done. An area where this occurs often is in the world of durable powers of attorney and conservatorships for individuals suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Estate Planning to Avoid Litigation

In this article, I will examine how durable powers of attorney can be utilized in order to provide an alternative to the litigation and court supervisions that normally occurs with a conservatorship.

When individuals suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, a time comes in their life when someone needs to step in and provide guidance and make decisions that are in that individual’s best interest. Without proper estate planning, this is usually accomplished through a conservatorship. A conservatorship is a court appointed and supervised relationship where a fiduciary (it could be a friend, family member, or hired fiduciary) works to make medical and financial decisions for an individual who cannot make them on their own.

Utilize Conservatorships and Power of Attorney

Unfortunately, the conservatorship process is a court litigated process, and as a result can be expensive. Court costs and attorney’s fees must be paid in order to set up this relationship, and even after that additional costs still occur. Since the conservatorship is overseen by the court, additional court hearings will likely be required where updates and accountings will have to be provided to the court. This whole process can become burdensome and very expensive, especially when examined against the alternative of the durable power of attorney.

A common aspect of estate planning is the durable power of attorney. The durable power of attorney is a document that allows a fiduciary to make decisions for an individual’s finances or health when certain events are met that show that the individual is incapacitated and unable to rightly make those decisions. During the estate planning process, a healthy individual can set up these documents, which will become active if the time comes for them to be used. In comparison to the conservatorship, the costs associated with a durable power of attorney are minimal. The fiduciary in the relationship has no obligation to report to the court and provide accountings, and no litigation is needed in order to establish the relationship. This allows an individual to utilize money that would have been used in legal fees and court costs towards their care instead.

To conclude, in many cases a durable power of attorney is a good alternative to a conservatorship, but the documents need to be prepared before the need for the durable power of attorney arises, or the more expensive alternative of conservatorship may be necessary.  Contact Stevenson Law office for any questions that you may have regarding Los Angeles conservatorships.

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