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What Is Probate and How to Prepare for It?
Probate Should Be Avoided

What Is Probate and How to Prepare for It?

The word probate is from the Latin word, meaning “to prove.” It is the court-supervised process of authenticating the last will and testament of a person who has died and then taking a series of steps to administer their estate. The typical situation, according to the article “Some helpful hints to aid in navigating the probate process” from The Westerly Sun, is that someone passes away and their heirs must go to the Probate Court to obtain the authority to handle their final business and settle their affairs.

Many families work with an estate planning attorney to help them go through the probate process.

Regardless of whether there is a will, someone, usually a spouse or adult child, asks the court to be appointed as the executor of the estate. This person must accomplish a number of tasks to make sure the decedent’s wishes are followed, as documented by their will.

People often think that just being the legally married spouse or child of the deceased person is all anyone needs to be empowered to handle their estate, but that’s not how it works. There must be an appointment by the court to manage the assets and deal with the IRS, the state, creditors and all of the person’s outstanding personal affairs.

If there is a will, once it is validated by the court, the executor begins the process of identifying and valuing the assets, which must be reported to the court. The last bills and funeral costs must be paid, the IRS must be contacted to obtain an estate taxpayer identification number and other financial matters will need to be addressed. Estate taxes may need to be paid, at the state or federal level. Final tax returns, from the last year the person was alive, must be paid.

It takes several months and sometimes more than a year to go through probate and settle an estate. That includes distributing the assets and making gifts of tangible personal property to the heirs. Once this task is completed, the executor (or their legal representative) contacts the court. When everything has been done and the judge is satisfied that all business on behalf of the decedent has been completed, the executor is released from their duty and the estate is officially closed.

When there is no will, the process is different. The laws of the state where the deceased lived will be used to guide the distribution of assets. Kinship, or how people are related, will be used, regardless of the relationship between the decedent and family members. This can often lead to fractures within a family, or to people receiving inheritances that were intended for other people.

Learn how good estate planning can avoid probate.

Reference: The Westerly Sun (Nov. 16, 2019) “Some helpful hints to aid in navigating the probate process”

Comparing Types of Memory Care Facilities
Knowing the Options When Evaluating a Memory Care Facility

Comparing Types of Memory Care Facilities

If your aging loved one needs specialized care because of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, you might be searching for the right memory care facility. There are several types of care options. Some assisted living developments have onsite memory care units. A dedicated facility only accepts residents with a need for specialized care. The highest level of memory care is an Alzheimer’s care unit, usually with 24-hour supervised care.

It is easy to get overwhelmed by these options. If you are trying to find the best placement for your loved one, you might benefit from some help comparing types of memory care facilities.

Specialized Memory Care

A facility that focuses on memory issues might use one or more of these terms:

  • Memory Care Unit
  • Alzheimer’s Care Community
  • Specialized Care Units (SPU)
  • Dementia Care Community

There is no federal regulation of assisted living facilities. No category of assisted living is growing faster than memory care. Because assisted living and memory care are lucrative businesses, some unscrupulous companies might claim to provide better care than they actually do. Always check with your doctor and local social service agencies about these types of centers.

Visit several facilities, so you can compare the physical layouts, cleanliness, activities and interaction of the staff members with the residents. A memory care facility should have a mindful design that keeps the seniors safe but does not make them feel as if they are in a prison. High-quality design features can help to prevent injuries from falls, reduce anxiety, increase social interaction and allow residents the opportunity to walk around safely.

An assisted living center might claim to provide memory care, but genuine memory care includes round-the-clock supervision by well-trained professionals in a more restrictive environment than a typical assisted living facility. For example, people with dementia tend to wander off and leave the center, often in the middle of the night. People have met with tragic ends to their lives from exposure to the elements, drowning and foul play in these situations.

The Cost of Alzheimer’s Care

There are several different levels of care for people with Alzheimer’s disease, depending on the stage and severity of the illness. A person can receive Alzheimer’s care at a variety of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). Here is a comparison of the cost of the different types of CCRCs that offer memory care:

  • Home care: $16 to $28 an hour
  • Independent living center: $1,500 to $6,000 a month
  • Assisted living facility: an average of $4,000 a month
  • Residential care: $3,500 to $4,500 a month
  • Skilled nursing care: an average of $7,441 a month for a semi-private room and $8,365 a month for a private room
  • Hospice care: $41 an hour or $193 a day

These average prices can be quite different from the cost where you live. Always get a written list of all the fees the facilities charge. Make sure you know what the basic monthly cost includes and what will generate an extra expense.

Use this checklist when visiting assisted living facilities.


A Place for Mom. “What is Alzheimer’s Memory Care?” (accessed November 21, 2019)