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Colorado Springs Legal Blog

What exactly is the probate purpose and process?

Most people have heard of probate before -- but they probably don't know exactly what it means or how it works.

Probate is the term used to describe the basic process of settling the estate of a deceased person. Whether there is or isn't a will, the deceased's assets need to be collected, creditors may need to be paid and heirs need to collect their inheritances.

Look for these signs of elder exploitation

Seniors, especially those who are largely isolated from others due to illness or infirmity, are particularly vulnerable to abuse, including financial exploitation.

In fact, the problem may be worse than many people realize. According to the government, 40 percent of seniors suffer financial exploitation, many of them at the hands of the people they trust the most. However, would you recognize the signs of financial abuse if you saw them?

Couple pledges multi-million dollar estate to Colorado University

Colorado University has made quite an impression on some people. Now, those people are coming back to leave their own impression on the university in the form of a multi-million dollar estate gift.

A husband and wife recently pledged the biggest gift ever received from an estate, $12 million, to the university. As longtime supporters, the couple said they'd like to see the university rival Princeton in terms of academic success and quality. The gift will go to fund scholarships, international initiatives and experimentation.

What are some important things for a legal guardian to know?

If you've recently taken on the job of being your someone's legal guardian, you're now responsible for helping that person out with his or her personal affairs. You've also probably been handed a stack of forms and instructions on how to keep the right records and make the right filings.

There are, however, a lot of other things you may need to know. Informing yourself about your rights and responsibilities can help you do the best job possible.

The difficult aspects of probate mediation

Mediation is always an option over litigation -- as long as both parties are willing to sit at the table. When a probate dispute arises after the death of a family member, it's often a good thing to consider mediation before heading to court.

However, probate mediation presents some unusual difficulties:

What happens if you outlive your beneficiaries?

When you create a will or trust, your plans are clearly detailed. You want your assets to go to specific beneficiaries who may include your spouse, children or grandchildren. Usually, you don’t think that you will outlive your heirs. No one wants to outlive their heirs, but, sometimes, tragic life events happen.

This is why it’s important to name alternate beneficiaries. While you’re making those additions to your estate plan, name an alternate executor as well as a second level of alternate beneficiaries.

Estate sale debacle leads to nightmare for homeowner

Everybody seems to love estate sales.

They are often a favorite way for relatives to dispose of the things that deceased relatives have collected throughout their lifetimes. And, most people who go to them consider a good estate sale to be the highlight of their day.

Can you keep the family home if you go into a nursing home?

There's a difficult problem faced by a lot of older Americans. They may genuinely need nursing home care for a period of time -- either after an illness, a surgery or toward the end of their lives. However, they're afraid that if they enter a nursing home that the biggest thing they have of value to pass to their children -- their home -- will end up going to the state as a result.

When a nursing home patient receives Medicaid -- and most become eligible upon admittance -- the state wants its money back after the patient's death. To get it, the state files its claim once the deceased patient's estate goes into probate, forcing the estate to sell the house if there isn't any other money.

Estate planning is essential for unmarried couples

There's nothing wrong with sharing your hopes, dreams and life with someone you love.

However, unmarried couples face significant legal problems when one member of the couple dies without an estate plan -- or leaves behind a plan that's sadly outdated.

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