Guardianship & Conservatorship

Special Needs Planning

Estate Administration/Probate

Estate Planning 

What is estate planning after all? Generally speaking, estate planning allows you to determine how assets will be distributed and managed after death or incapacity. Estate planning allows you to designate guardians of minors rather than dealing with foster care and evaluations of best interests of the child. It allows you to ensure that assets can be accessed in a timely manner rather than frozen in a probate process. We also address your own incapacity.

 Who will make health care decisions or manage your finances on your behalf?  Typically, a foundational estate plan includes the following documents: a Revocable Trust, a Last Will and Testament, a Financial Power of Attorney, a Health Care Power of Attorney, and a Living Will. Each document serves a specific purpose, and we enjoy describing the purposes and the application of the documents to your specific circumstances with you during the initial consultation. 

Estate Planning

Estate Administration

(The dreaded probate process.) Did you know that a stand-alone Last Will and Testament is a directive to the Court and does not avoid probate? Unfortunately, stand-alone Wills do not avoid the probate process which is time-consuming, expensive, and public. Any asset that was owned by a decedent in his or her individual name with no payable on death beneficiary must go through probate before anyone can access, manage, and distribute the asset. The Commissioner of Accounts, Superior Court, or Register of Wills (depending on the jurisdiction) will require many filings at specific times. There are information reports, affidavits, inventories, and annual accountings, just to name a few. Emily is the third attorney on a probate matter in Fairfax County from 1983! Ideally, probate is avoided and a properly drafted estate plan with a fully-funded trust can achieve that goal. 

Do you have a loved one who qualifies as disabled and receives government assistance? If you leave assets to that person, then you could unintentionally disqualify them from their government benefits. A special needs trust is critical under these circumstances. Additionally, if your special needs family member is your child, then you must remember that once your child reaches the age of eighteen (18) years, that child is an adult and you have no rights to their medical records or financial information/accounts, to manage their contractual relationships with third-parties, or to make health care decisions for them. Oftentimes guardianship is needed to avoid surprises and unintentional consequences. 

Special Needs Planning

Guardianship & Conservatorship

The courts can award guardianship and conservatorship to petitioners who convince the court that the incapacitated adult needs assistance with their daily needs and health care (guardianship) and/or management of their assets (conservatorship). Some jurisdictions combine the two, while others address them separately. If possible, it is best to plan ahead and designate attorneys-in-fact through financial and health care powers of attorney. These documents are relatively simple and very affordable and avoid the need to petition the court. Keep in mind that every child becomes an adult once they reach 18, so you may want to ask/inform the new adults in your household about obtaining these documents...I know my kids will be nudged, really shoved, in that direction when the time comes. However, if powers of attorney were not an option or the incapacitated individual never got around to proactively planning, then guardianship and conservatorship are another way of helping your loved one. 

Michael’s real estate process focuses on working with all aspects of residential home buying including primary home, investor clients, and vacation home buyers. He has expert knowledge of our local islands and beach communities including deep-water and beachfront. A passion for all things history, Michael also offers his clients keen insight into the background and nuances when buying or selling real estate in Historic Charleston. He is also half English and shares dual citizenship in the US and the UK. An entertainer at heart, Michael has impressive culinary knowledge and loves cooking international cuisine for family and friends. 

Michael and his wife, Crissy, live in Mount Pleasant with their daughter and a son who attend school on the downtown peninsula. Family time is spent attending sports practice or games, boating the local waterways, golf cart rides around the islands, and enjoying Historic Charleston on Sundays after Mass. The family humbly serves the Charleston community through various volunteer opportunities every year. Crissy and Michael Rowell hope to share their love for all things Lowcountry and real estate with you and your family, too.

Type Of Service
Jurisdiction (D.C., MD. or VA.)

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