43576 Washington Street, Suite 110
La Quinta, CA 92253
(760) 834-0444
Fax: (760) 834-0333

Sheila Barton Profile

Estate Planning and Administration
Is a process of preparing an orderly disposition of an individual’s financial and personal affairs. Estate planning involves several aspects of an individual’s life, including the management of property during the individual’s lifetime and after death, executing legal documents called “testamentary” instruments, planning for incapacity, making health care and end of life decisions and maximizing tax benefits. The administration of the estate is the process of carrying out the individual’s estate plan and at such time as the individual becomes incapacitated or following death. The three main duties in administering an estate are collecting the assets, paying debts and taxes and distributing the property to the beneficiaries.

Probate is the court-supervised process for carrying out the provisions of an individual’s will. The process is usually initiated by the executor named in the will filing a petition with the court for authority to take charge of the estate and follow the wishes of the decedent expressed in the will.

A will is a legal document by which a person (the testator) names one or more persons or entities to manage his/her estate and administer the transfer of the property at death. You also may name a guardian for your minor children in a will.

The most common type of trust is a revocable living trust. It is a legal document that becomes valid when you execute it and transfer property into it. In most cases, as long as you are alive and competent, you will manage the trust assets. Some of the factors considered in determining whether you would benefit from a living trust include the type and amount of your assets, tax planning, the number and ages of your beneficiaries and how you want to provide for them, the likelihood that your estate will be contested, and your desire to keep your assets private and out of the public record of the courts.

Durable Powers of Attorney
A durable power of attorney for financial management is written authorization for an agent to manage assets and make financial decisions on behalf of the principal (person giving the power of attorney). You also may name a conservator of your estate in a durable power of attorney for financial management.

Advance Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions
An advance health care directive and power of attorney for health care decisions is awritten document that instructs an agent to make health care decisions for the principal. You may instruct your agent to prolong your life or not to prolong your life under specified conditions. You also may name a conservator of your person in an advance health care directive and power of attorney for health care decisions.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Authorization
The HIPAA authorization is a written document that allows certain people (usually your agent named in your health care directive) to have access to your medical records.

There are two types of conservatorships, both intended to protect the individual. A conservatorship of the person is for the purpose of managing the personal care of a individual who is unable to properly provide for his or her personal needs for physical health, medical care, food, clothing, or shelter. A conservatorship of the estate is for the purpose of managing the financial affairs of a person who is unable to manage his or her own financial affairs or is unable to resist fraud or undue influence.

Much like the conservatorship for an adult, a probate guardianship is a court proceeding in which a guardian is appointed by the probate court to protect the person and/or estate of a minor.