Death ends a life, not a relationship. -- Robert Benchley
Probate & Trust Administration
When someone dies they leave affairs that need to be addressed: children and pets to be cared for, assets to be transferred, business to be wrapped up, and debts to be paid. This can be done by:
small estate affidavits, or
The method that is used and the difficulty of the process will depend on the planning that has been in advance, the assets and issues left behind, and the people involved. If you have lost a loved one, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation to find out what method would best address your circumstances, what will be involved in that process, and whether you are qualified to act as the deceased's personal representative.
If you are qualified to serve as personal representative, Phinney Estate Law can assist you in starting the process and advise you each step of the way to make sure that you follow the law, have the resources to support good decisions, can resolve any conflicts that arise. Our goal is to take care of everything as efficiently as possible to maximize the assets available to take care of the deceased's loved ones and beneficiaries. We have worked hard to break the process down into manageable steps and are there to assist you as much or as little as you need.
If you are a heir or beneficiary an estate or trust and are concerned about how the estate is being managed we are happy to meet with you to discuss your rights. Beneficiaries and heirs are entitled to notice and information about the status of the estate and for the estate to be managed efficiently and wisely. Where that isn't happening, we work with clients to help get the process back on track. We feel it is important, however, that all heirs and beneficiaries are aware that resolving these issues through traditional litigation in the courts can be time consuming, expense, and destructive to personal relationships. Because most estates are modest and finite, often when families litigate their conflicts in a probate or trust administration everyone looses except the lawyers. There are cases where litigation is necessary but we always encourage clients to first seek to resolve their issues through informal conflict coaching or negotiation, mediation, or collaborative law.
Unless appointed by a court as a special administrator, Phinney Estate Law does not serve as a personal representative or trustee. We believe that role is best served by a friend or family member trusted by the deceased and/or the family or a professional fiduciary who will charge a rate below that paid to attorneys.