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  • Writer's pictureChen Law, LLC

Attorney Derek Chen Talks Estate Planning on Talk of Alabama

Attorney Derek Chen joined Talk of Alabama on Monday, March 6, to discuss the importance of estate planning. To watch the full interview, visit

Below are some highlights from the interview:

1. Why is it important to get a will?

Picture your least favorite family member. That person may end up inheriting your assets. Because if you don't have an estate plan prepared, the State of Alabama already has one prepared for you. And chances are, you may not like it. Unless you have an estate plan in place while you are alive and well, you lose the ability to direct where your assets end up going and the probate process may be more complicated than necessary for your family members to go through.

2. What is a conservator?

A conservator is someone who has legal authority over a minor or an incapacitated person's estate. They handle the money, assets, and finances for people who cannot handle it for themselves. Someone may need a conservator temporarily or on a more permanent basis, depending on their condition. Sometimes a family member can be appointed as a conservator or if none can, then a third party can be appointed.

3. What is a guardian?

A guardian is someone who has legal authority over a minor or an incapacitated person. They look out for the health, education, and welfare of an individual. Again, someone may need a guardian on a temporary basis or on a more permanent basis depending on whether the condition which makes them unable to care for themselves is temporary or permanent. Like a conservator, the guardian can be a family member or a third party.

4. What is the difference between a conservatorship and a guardianship?

The best way to think about it is a conservatorship handles finances and assets and a guardianship handles the person.

5. What are some common misconceptions of estate planning that you have heard?

One is that you don't need to do estate planning unless you have a lot of assets. It's smart to have an estate plan no matter how many assets you have. If you have any assets whatsoever, if you do not make plans for who is to receive them when you die, then they may not or they may have trouble establishing their rights to them. Another misconception is that you can find a will online and it will work just as well. The sample you find online may work. However, every situation is different and without a professional looking at the final product and making necessary adjustments if needed, the will you found online may not work as you intended. In fact, it may not be enforceable at all. It may cause extra heartache for family members who are trying to navigate through the probate process. Preparing a will is a lot less time-consuming than you think — if you use someone who knows what they are doing and you aren’t stumbling through it yourself.

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