If a beloved member of your family, or a close friend or partner, has recently died we extend our sympathy. We hope it is a comfort to realize that your responsibilities as a personal representative or trustee can be guided by trusted legal counsel. The first step of our service procedure is a meeting to consider your situation. If the deceased person was our client before death, we hope our previous relationship will now facilitate the efficient handling of the estate. At our first meeting we begin to understand any legal documents related to the estate , financial and asset information, and family dynamics to determine the needed extent of administration. A formal probate administration in the court system may be required for the heirs and beneficiaries to obtain clear title and legal possession of the property. Sometimes probate is routine and simple. At other times it may be more involved. Do not make the common mistake of thinking that a will is used to AVOID probate. Rather, think of a will as a set of instructions and requests to the probate judge. Revocable living trusts have become common “will substitutes” to transfer property at death without probate. Sometimes they successfully meet this objective, and sometimes not. Even if probate is not required because the decedent properly established AND FUNDED a trust, it is important that it be properly handled after death — to avoid penalties, liability, and some taxes.