© 2015 by Law Offices of Melissa L. Rodriguez

My Services:

  • Trust & Estate Planning

  • Probate Court Proceedings

  • Trust Administration

  • Decedent Administration

Trust & Estate Planning

Proper estate planning lets you control your hard earned assets during your lifetime, while planning for your family when you are no longer able. It allows the people you trust to manage your affairs if you become unable, without having to go to court to ask for the authority to do so. A proper estate plan also gives you the power to distribute your estate according to your wishes, rather than having a judge order the distribution of your estate; and it saves your loved ones considerable time, money and stress during the difficult and painful time following your death. I use wills, trusts, advance health care directives and powers of attorney for finance, among other documents, to help create a plan tailored to meet your needs.

Probate Court Proceedings

Probate is the court process where a judge oversees the proper payment of creditors and the distribution of assets following one's death. A judge makes sure an appointed administrator organizes and finalizes all of the deceased person’s legal and financial affairs. It is important to note that a will does not avoid probate. If the deceased person had a will, the probate court will make a ruling on the validity of that will, before allowing distribution of assets to beneficiaries or heirs. I represent clients in these probate court proceedings. I appear in court for them, prepare the documents required by the court, deal with creditors, when necessary, and assist with distribution of the assets.

Trust Administration

After the death of the person or persons who created a trust, a successor trustee administers the trust. They ensure creditors are paid and distributions are made according to the terms of the trust. This is a private process, as opposed to the public probate court proceedings. While the administration of a trust is a much simpler and quicker process than probate, there are still several steps which have to be taken before closing the trust, and of which many successor trustees are unaware.

Sometimes individuals die with small estates, which don’t require the formality of probate court proceedings. Still, the surviving family has to ensure creditors are paid, all assets and life insurance are collected and properly distributed, and retirement accounts are transferred to the proper persons. I advise clients during this process and help them avoid common pitfalls.

Decedent Administration