QUESTION:  I have heard much said about probate and avoiding it if possible.  I am not exactly sure what happens during probate.  Can you enlighten me?

  ANSWER:  Probate is a court procedure which starts with determining the validity of a will presented to the court and ends with the distribution of assets to the named beneficiaries of the estate.

  During probate, proof is offered to the court showing that the document presented is the authentic will of the deceased and that it is properly signed and witnessed as required by the laws of the state in which it was created.

  Probate proceedings require that the executor of the will inventory the deceased’s assets and have them appraised.  He or she must notify relatives and creditors of the proceedings and publish notice of probate in appropriate newspapers.  Time then must be allowed for creditors to make claims, if any, against the estate.

  After all claims have been settled, the executor is then free to distribute the remaining assets to beneficiaries named in the will and probate is then closed.

  Probate can be time-consuming depending on the complexity of the estate.  It can also be expensive.  Costs vary widely from state to state and again depend on the complexity and size of the estate.  Attorney’s fees and court costs can eat into the value of the estate.

  Length of time and costs are generally the reasons most people are interested in avoiding probate.  Careful estate planning will allow you to determine the best alternative methods available for leaving your estate to your heirs.

  Professionals who can assist you in these decisions include attorneys, estate planners and tax experts.  It is worth the time and cost to obtain the services of these professionals in doing your estate planning.


  QUESTION:  I know to call 911 in an emergency but have never had to make such a call and am not exactly sure what to expect when the operator answers.

  ANSWER:  You will be much more effective when reporting an emergency if you know in advance what you are likely to encounter and what will be expected of you.

  The dispatcher is a professionally trained person who has the responsibility to obtain necessary information and to send the appropriate assistance to the scene of the emergency as quickly as possible.

  The most important thing you can do is to stay calm.  When you are connected with 911 you may hear a recording asking you to wait for a dispatcher.  Do not hang up and attempt to place a second call.  This will only delay the response time to the emergency you are reporting.  Calls to 911 are handled in the order they are received.  If you hang up and redial you go to the end of the line.

  When the dispatcher does come on the line explain your situation clearly and briefly.  Answers to questions you are asked should be short and direct.  If more information is needed the dispatcher will ask additional questions.

  If the dispatcher gives you directions follow them exactly.  If this requires that you leave the phone do not hang up.  Keep the line open.  When you have completed whatever you were instructed to do return to the phone for further instructions.

  Never hang up on a 911 call until the dispatcher tells you to do so.

  Call 911 any time there is an emergency.  This call is free from all telephones including pay phones.  Non-emergency calls should be made to the local number provided for the agency you are trying to reach.



  SUNDAY – February 18 – 2:00 to 3:30 pm (doors open at 1:30) – History Comes Alive – “History of Comedians” – presented by Michael Sherman a well known entertainer, impersonator and comedian.   The program will include impersonations of Jack Benny, Groucho Marx, George Burns, Jimmy Durante, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.  He will share their histories and some trivia about them – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks.  Tickets are $5.00 and available at Goebel’s front desk.

  TUESDAY – February 20 – 1:30 to 3:00 pm – Presentation – “George Washington – President, Man, Myth” discover what is true and what is myth – at Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley.  Reservations are required and can be made at the center’s main desk or by calling (805) 583-6363.

  SATURDAY = February 24 – 11:00 am (doors open at 9:30) “Bingo Bonanza!” at Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi.  Admission is $25 or $30 including lunch.  Tickets are available at the center’s main desk.  For more information call (805) 583-6363.  

  TUESDAY – February 27 – 4:00 to 5:30 pm – Seminar – Path to Positive Aging Series – “Saving Your Brain” – at Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks.  For reservations call (805) 497-0189.

  MONDAYS – starting March 5 – 11:15 to 12:45 pm – 6-week meditation series – “Relieve Stress & Promote Wellness through Meditation – at Agoura Hills Recreation & Event Center, 29900 Ladyface Court, Agoura Hills.  Series fee is $25.  To  register call (818) 597-7361.



  Volunteer Instructor Training for Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance Classes – scheduled for Friday and Saturday February 17 and 18.  Upon completion of training volunteers will be recruited to lead classes in Oxnard, Ventura, Camarillo and Port Hueneme.  For more information or to register for the training call (805) 385-8023.


  Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns.  The advocates are located at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road , Thousand Oaks, CA 91362 or call (805) 495-6250 or e-mail (please include your telephone number.)  You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.






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