When thinking of estate planning most everyone thinks of a will or a trust. However, proper estate planning encompasses more than that. Through proper estate planning an individual can formulate a plan:

→ For the transfer of the individual’s property at death which ensures that the property will go to the individual’s chosen beneficiary or beneficiaries.

→ To deal with the individual’s assets and financial matters in the event of mental incapacity or disability.

→ For making of medical decisions on behalf of the individual in the event of mental incapacity or disability.

→ To find effective ways to avoid probate

An estate plan is something everyone should have. Even an individual who does not have substantial property holdings needs to understand the legal consequences of death. Without a well thought out estate plan, a beneficiary may incur legal costs and face delays in settling the affairs of the decedent which could have been avoided or substantially reduced. A basic estate plan consists of the following documents:

→ Will or Last Will and Testament: A document which names beneficiary or beneficiaries who are to receive the decedent’s property.

→ Power of Attorney: Appoints someone to conduct specified transactions on behalf of an incapacitated person.

→ Living Will: Specifies what medical procedures/treatment a person wants if unable to communicate.

→ Medical Directive: Appoints someone to make health care decisions.


Probate is a court-process to authenticate a decedent’s will or last will and testament. An executor or personal representative, usually named in the will, is appointed by the court to carry out the administration of the estate. The most important duties of the executor are to locate all the decedent’s property, notify the decedent’s creditors of the probate, pay the decedent’s debts and distribute the decedent’s property to the beneficiary or beneficiaries named in the will. There are two types of probate proceedings:

→ Formal Administration

→ Summary Administration

A simple probate proceeding can take up to a year. There are many circumstances which can cause the probate proceeding to last much longer than a year. Generally, distribution of property to the beneficiary does not take place until the estate has been fully administered. With a properly executed estate plan, the cost of the probate and the delay in the distribution of the property to the beneficiary or beneficiaries can be reduced or avoided.


A knowledgeable attorney can review your property holdings and structure your estate so as to reduce the impact of a probate proceeding or eliminate it altogether. Even when probate cannot be avoided, a skilled lawyer can draft all the documents necessary so that all your legal affairs are in order in the event of death or incapacity.
Call attorney Magda Abdo-Gomez at 305-559-7478 or contact her online to see how she can help with your estate plan or probate proceeding.