How We Help

We Focus on Helping Clients Personally and Individually 

When you feel overwhelmed by probate, estate planning, adoption, conservatorship, guardianship issues, and personal injury claims, probate attorney and personal injury lawyer Derek Chen brings a fresh perspective to representing you.

Probate
 

What is Probate?

Probate generally means the administration of the estate of one who dies with a will.

How to File a Will for Probate

Alabama’s Probate Code sets forth the process and procedure for:

  • Admitting a will to probate

  • Appointing a personal representative (executor)

  • Transferring and distributing real and personal property

  • Paying the debts of the deceased. 

What is Probate Court?

The probate courts in Alabama handle a wide variety of matters but not traditional lawsuits. Probate court addresses personal legal issues dealing with the property of individuals and individuals who cannot take care of themselves.

Probate lawyer and estate planning attorney Derek Chen can probate a will and help a personal representative (executor) fulfill his or her duties to the probate court.

Estate
Planning

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is generally those legal matters addressing one’s individual assets and how they should be handled if one cannot manage or them individually either because of permanent or temporary incapacity or in the event of one’s death. Though the law makes provisions in such circumstances if one has not made those decisions ahead of time, the law also allows you to make those decisions beforehand.

What estate planning documents do I need?

There are various types of estate planning documents that you should consider preparing, including but not limited to:

What is estate administration?

Estate administration refers generally to the handling of one’s affairs, assets, and liabilities upon their death. Estate administration includes handling the affairs of those who may die with or without a will.

What is an executor, personal representative, or estate administrator?

Regardless of whether an estate is handled in accordance with a will or is administered without a will, our probate lawyers and estate planning attorneys represent those charged with handling those estates to ensure that they comply with the law and with the court’s orders.

Probate lawyer and estate planning attorney Derek Chen represents clients in probate court in any dispute involving a will or the administration of an estate. He also represents those seeking to administer the estate of those who die without a will and those who may oppose the administration by another.

Last Wills
& Testament

What is a Last Will and Testament?

Last Wills and Testaments are the legal documents that set out how one’s estate (assets and liabilities) should be handled upon their death. The law is very specific about the terms and conditions which must be met in order for a Last Will and Testament to be given legal effect.  Once a death occurs, there is a procedure by which the terms of the will can be enforced or carried out. 

Can a Will be contested?

Often, there is a dispute as to the validity or enforceability of a will that someone seeks to admit to the court for probate. Perhaps there is a question about the will’s authenticity, whether it is the most recent will, or whether the will was the result of undue or improper influence. In these cases, the probate court must decide whether the will should be probated. There can also be disputes about who can or should serve as the personal representative or questions about how a specific gift, devise, or bequest is to be handled.

What happens to your estate if you don't have a Will?

Alabama law sets forth the procedure for handling the estate of those who die without a will. There are specific provisions for how such estates are to be administered.

What if the executor does not probate the Will?

If someone has been charged with administering an estate and is not doing so properly, we represent those who may challenge their decisions or authority and can help hold them accountable.

Probate lawyer and estate planning attorney Derek Chen can help ensure that your desires and wishes are carried out upon your death and can work with you to develop a strategy for best managing your assets upon your death.

Trusts
 

What is a Trust?

Basically, a trust is a legal document that places property, assets, or funds in the care of a person or entity who manages, handles, and holds those assets for the benefit of a third party.  Trusts can be created during one’s life or can be created by will. The trust document explains the terms and conditions for the use of the property paid or put into the trust.  The trustee must comply with those instructions.

Types of Trusts

There are many different types of trusts:

  • ​Irrevocable Trust – An irrevocable trust is created by someone living who designates a trustee (the person who will handle or manage the trust) and the designated beneficiaries of the trust.  Once the trust is established, it cannot be modified or changed by the person creating it.

  • ​Revocable Trust – A revocable trust is created by someone living who designates a trustee (the person who will handle or manage the trust) and the designated beneficiaries of the trust.  Once the trust is established, it can be modified, changed, or terminated by the person who created it.

  • ​Living Trust – Living trusts can be irrevocable or revocable and are created by someone during their lifetime.

  • ​Testamentary Trust – Testamentary trusts are created or become effective upon someone’s death and are generally created by someone’s will.

Why put a property in a Trust?

By placing funds or property in a trust, one can make a gift and still maintain some control over how the gift is used or spent.For example, if someone wants to make a gift to a child to be used for their health, education, or welfare, she might create a trust and specify in the trust document how the funds are to be spent. The trustee can manage the funds so that they are preserved, properly invested, and used in accordance with those restrictions.

Probate lawyer and estate planning attorney Derek Chen represents clients in probate court in any dispute involving a will or the administration of an estate. He also represents those seeking to administer the estate of those who die without a will and those who may oppose the administration by another.

Living Wills
 

What is a Living Will?

A living will or advance directive is a legal document by which an individual can set forth what medical care they want to receive if they are permanently incapacitated and not able to speak for themselves. 

When should you make a Living Will?

Living wills take the pressure off surviving loved ones and physicians by giving them specific instructions as to what type of care should be administered given very specific circumstances. It allows people to avoid long-term care for their body once their brain function ceases and there is no hope of recovery. If you want to make end-of-life decisions while you can and before the need arises, a living will allow you to do so. It allows you to prevent and avoid your loved ones having to decide whether to remove you from life-sustaining equipment which is keeping your body alive but you are in a comatose state with no chance of recovery. You won’t be able to let your caregivers know how to make such decisions at that time. A living will gives them your thoughts and guidance as to what you would want them to do in those circumstances (and similar others).

Probate lawyer and estate planning attorney Derek Chen can review the circumstances and the care options with you so that you can make an informed decision about such end-of-life care and so that your loved ones don’t have to.

Powers of
Attorney

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document by which one can bestow authority upon another to act in their place. They can be broad or specific. Powers of attorney can be temporary or used for a specific limited purpose or can be broad and long-lasting. They can currently confer that authority or can be triggered by an event that may occur in the future, such as temporary or permanent incapacity. The powers conferred by a power of attorney are generally revocable, in other words they can be terminated, canceled, or revoked. They are not merely forms.

Types of Powers of Attorney

There are many different types of powers of attorney:

  • ​Healthcare Power of Attorney – A healthcare power of attorney is a legal document that empowers another to make medical decisions for someone who cannot make those decisions themselves either because of temporary or permanent incapacity or lack of consciousness and the like.

  • Financial Power of Attorney – A financial power of attorney allows you to designate someone to act on your behalf to handle specified financial matters.

  • ​Durable Power of Attorney (or Temporary Power of Attorney) – A durable power of attorney survives your becoming incapacitated, either temporarily or permanently. If not durable, a power of attorney generally becomes ineffective once you become incapacitated (the thought being that it can no longer be revoked).

Probate lawyer and estate planning attorney Derek Chen helps clients determine what they need and what specific provisions best suit their specific needs.

Adoption
 

How does legal adoption work?

Adoptions can arise in a wide variety of circumstances, some of which are pleasant and heart-warming, and others which are the result of horrific circumstances. Regardless of situation, our family law attorneys can help navigate the complex legal process for adoption. We appreciate the incredible responsibility of caring for the child of another and help ensure that the process is as smooth as possible.

Conservatorships & Guardianships

What is a Conservatorship?

Alabama law sets out a process for authorizing individuals to care for the person or property of another who cannot do so themselves and who have not made arrangements for doing so prior to the condition which causes the need (such as by a power of attorney).

Who decides Conservatorship?

Conservatorships are the legal process administered by a probate court whereby one is appointed to handle the assets of another who cannot do so himself. A conservator handles the real, personal, and financial assets for one who is not able to do so themselves either because of incapacity (mental, emotional, psychological, or physical) or because of their age or other infirmities.

What is Guardianship?

Guardianship is the legal process administered by a probate court whereby one is appointed to make decisions about the health, safety, and well-being of one who cannot make those decisions for themselves, either because of age or incapacity (mental, emotional, psychological, or physical).

Types of Guardianship

People think of guardians for children, but guardians can be appointed for individuals of any age, including, but not limited to:

  • Legal Guardianship for Adults with Disabilities​

  • Guardianship for Adults with Mental Illness

Conservatorship vs. Guardianship

A conservator merely handles someone’s property or money, such as creating and managing bank accounts, income and expenses. A guardian handles someone’s person, makes decisions about their health, education, and welfare, for example.

Probate lawyer and estate planning attorney Derek Chen can help guide you through the process to establish or contest a conservatorship or guardianship and can also advise and assist those who have been charged with the duties and legal responsibilities of conservator or guardian.

Conservatorships & Guardianships

Birmingham Personal Injury Lawyer

I regularly work with other lawyers throughout the state whose skills and experience match the unique needs of each of my clients. Don’t choose a personal injury lawyer based on their advertisements. Let me use my knowledge and relationships to see that you get the best representation possible. And I’ll be right there with you every step of the way to ensure that maximize your recovery in the following types of personal injury matters:

  • Car wrecks

  • 18-wheeler accidents

  • Wrongful death

  • Workplace accidents

  • Defective products

  • Defective medical devices

  • Defective pharmaceuticals

  • Toxic torts

  • Catastrophic injuries