Q: 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?
A: I’ll try. Probate is a court proceeding that 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 of the size and requirements of the estate. Attorney’s fees and court costs can eat into the value of the estate.
Length of time and cost are generally the reasons why 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.
Q: The cost of placing someone in a nursing home is way beyond my means. If I need this type of care how will the cost be covered?
A: Your concern is not unique. For most people finding ways to finance nursing home care is a major concern.
The four basic ways in which nursing home costs may be financed are personal resources; private insurance; Medicare, but only in very specific and limited situations; and MediCal.
Many people entering a nursing home first pay for their care with personal resources. However, many families use up their resources quickly because of the high cost and then must apply for assistance through MediCal.
It is wise to know the eligibility requirements before entering a facility. This state and federal program is available to individuals with low incomes and limited resources. The nursing home used must be a MediCal-certified facility.
More and more families are considering the purchase of long-term insurance to cover nursing home care. Because costs of long-term care policies vary greatly, even for similar policies, shopping and price comparison are important.
Under some very limited circumstances, Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) will pay for a short fixed period of skilled nursing facility care. The facility must be Medicare-certified and under no circumstances will Medicare pay if the services required are for custodial care only.
THURSDAY: “Will You Pass Your Next Driving Class?” seminar. 1:30-3 p.m. at Moorpark Active Adult Center, 799 Moorpark Ave. in Moorpark. For reservations call 517-6261.
SUNDAY: The British Beat Band will play all the favorites of the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Herman’s Hermits and The Animals. 2 p.m. at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Tickets are $5 and available at the Goebel Center.
Sept. 9: Lawyers at the Library Series presentation “IRA Inheritance Trusts.” 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Ventura County Law Library, 800 S. Victoria Ave. in Ventura (located in the Ventura County Government Center facing Parking Lot A.) For information and reservations call 642-8982.
ONGOING: OSHER Lifelong Learning Institute at CSU Channel Islands has expanded its late afternoon and Saturday classes. At the Camarillo campus “Threats and Perceptions in the 21st Century” will be Wednesdays, “Songs for Political Actions 1930’s – 1950’s” will be Thursdays, and “Recent American History 1945-1974” and “Italian Composers Tradition and Innovation” will be Saturdays. At the Ventura College campus “Four First Ladies” will be held Thursdays. At the Thousand Oaks campus, “Turntable of Eurasia History and Archeology of the Black Sea” and “Beethoven the Composer” will be held Saturdays. For more information do an Internet search for “CI OLLI” or call 437-2748. Registration for the fall semester is currently in progress.