Estate Planning & Probate

Rhode Island Estate Planning & Probate Attorney

Attorney Christopher E. Friel regularly handles estate planning issues – probate administration, estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, guardianships, and living wills, just to name a few.

Attorney Friel is dedicated to informing, protecting and helping you through life’s most important decisions. His goal is simple: to serve the best interests of his clients. When you need proven legal experience, contact Attorney Christopher E. Friel. He is here to listen and assist in protecting you, your family and your assets.

Representation for All Estate Planning & Probate Matters

Attorney Friel is qualified and experienced to handle any type of estate and probate related matters, including:

The minimal estate planning protection everyone should have is a valid will. A will is a legal document expressing the wishes of a person regarding how they want their possessions disposed of after their death.  Only you or an attorney can legally draft a will for yourself. However, wills that have been drafted by the individual are often incomplete or inaccurate, and are declared invalid. If the will does not follow state law, it may be void. An invalid will is worthless, as if the person did not have one.

If someone dies without a will their assets are distributed to their heirs according to a set of rules known as “intestate” succession. Intestate means someone died without having made a legally valid will. This way of distributing your assets may not be what you wanted. For example, a fiancé or significant other is not part of the intestate succession. They would not be protected or receive any of your assets.

When someone dies, their estate enters probate whether they had a will or not. During the probate process, a will is declared valid or invalid.  Probate is also the legal process of managing and distributing the decedent’s estate. You may direct this distribution through your will. If no will exists, the property is distributed according to intestate succession, that is, to your closest living relatives (spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc.).  Probate is a time consuming and costly legal procedure.  Planning your estate in advance can avoid the hassle and cost of probate.

Contact Attorney Friel To Prepare Your Last Will And Testament

If you would like to discuss your particular needs with Attorney Christopher E. Friel, please contact us today by calling 401-737-4200 extension 23.

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In Rhode Island individuals have the right to control decisions related to their medical care, and one such mechanism is known as the “Living Will.”  Pursuant to Rhode Island’s Rights of the Terminally Ill Act, in a Living Will individuals can instruct their physicians to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining procedures in the event of a terminal illness.  However, such a legal document must comply with the provisions of the Act to ensure its legality. 

Contact Attorney Friel To Discuss Your Living Will Options

If you would like to discuss your particular needs with Attorney Christopher E. Friel, please contact us today by calling 401-737-4200 extension 23.

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Another important part of a good estate plan is the power of attorney.  In general, a power of attorney is a written document where an individual appoints another individual to act as an agent on their behalf. The agent is granted authority to perform certain acts or functions on behalf of the individual. There are many types of powers of attorney. To ensure you have the proper power of attorney and have only granted the authority you intended, a lawyer knowledgeable in the kinds of powers of attorney should write it for you.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Purposes

No matter your age, everyone should have a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Purposes, a document that grants another decision making abilities over health-related issues, in the event of your incapacitation. 

Power of Attorney for Financial Purposes

The Power of Attorney is a signed and notarized document by which one person, the principal, gives another person, an agent, authority to act on the principal’s behalf. The authority may be general, giving the agent broad power to make decisions, or limited, giving the agent the power to do one or more specific things. Most general powers of attorney prepared today are durable, which means the authority continues even if the principal becomes incapacitated and cannot act for himself or herself. A principal can make the power of attorney effective immediately or at some later date or event, such as when the principal becomes incapacitated. Under most circumstances, a properly executed general durable power of attorney avoids the need for a court-appointed guardian or conservator.

Contact Attorney Friel To Discuss Power of Attorney Options

If you would like to discuss your particular needs with Attorney Christopher E. Friel, please contact us today by calling 401-737-4200 extension 23.

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The best way to avoid probate is to make a living trust.  A trust is a legal title to property held by an individual or group for the benefit of another. There are many types of trusts and many reasons for their creation. The most commonly used trust is a revocable, living trust.  To ensure that you choose the right type of trust, it is best to have an experienced and qualified attorney properly and legally create it for you.

Contact Attorney Friel To Discuss Your Estate Plan

If you would like to discuss your particular needs with Attorney Christopher E. Friel, please contact us today by calling 401-737-4200 extension 23.

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Rhode Island Probate Attorney

Attorney Christopher E. Friel is an experienced probate court attorney who practices before the probate courts throughout the State of Rhode Island.  Attorney Friel understands and appreciates the difficulty of losing a loved one. “Estate Administration” is the legal process of handling decedent’s affairs. The settlement process differs depending on whether a will or trust was utilized to plan the estate, as well as the size and nature of the assets in the estate.  In instances when the decedent had no will or trust in effect at the time of his or her passing, the laws of the State of Rhode Island control the distribution of the estate.  

What Happens to My Estate if I Die without a Will or Trust?

Laws of Intestacy

If an individual dies without having an estate plan in effect, his/her estate will pass in accordance with Rhode Island’s rules of descent.  According to Rhode Island General Laws, section 33-1-1, “[w]henever any person having title to any real estate of inheritance shall die intestate as to such estate, it shall descend and pass in equal portions to his or her kindred, in the following course:

  1. First to the intestate’s children or their descendants, if there are any.

  2. Second if there be no children nor their descendants, then to the intestate’s parents in equal shares, or to the surviving parent.

  3. Third if there is no parent, then to the intestate’s brothers and sisters, and their descendants.”

Furthermore, the law provides that “[i]f the intestate has no surviving parent, nor brother, nor sister, nor their descendants, the inheritance shall go in equal moieties to the intestate’s paternal and maternal kindred, each in the following course: 

  1. First to the grandparents, in equal shares, if any there be.
  2. Second if there be no grandparent, then to the uncles and aunts, or their descendants by representation, or such of them as there be.

  3. Third if there be no grandparent, nor uncle, nor aunt, nor their descendants, then to the great grandparents in equal shares, if any there be.

  4. Fourth if there be no great grandparent, then to the great uncles and great aunts or their descendants by representation, or such of them as there be; and so on, in other cases, without end, passing to the nearest lineal ancestors and their descendants or such of them as there be. 

Rights of a Surviving Spouse

Rhode Island law does provide for a surviving spouse.  In particular, whenever the intestate dies and leaves a surviving spouse, the real estate of the intestate shall descend and pass to the surviving spouse for his or her natural life.  In addition to a life estate in the decedents real estate, a surviving spouse is also entitled to a spousal allowance pursuant to sections 33-1-6 and 33-1-10 of Rhode Island General Laws.   

Contact an Experienced Probate Court Attorney

Estate administration, whether administered through the probate court or privately administered via a trust agreement, includes valuing assets, determining how they are titled, gathering and paying estate debts (such as funeral bills, valid debts, administration costs, and taxes), and transferring net estate assets to designated beneficiaries pursuant to the terms of decedent’s will, trust, or laws of intestacy.  If you require assistance in the administration of an estate, contact Attorney Christopher E. Friel to discuss you matter at 401-737-4200 x23.

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Personalized Attorney Services in Rhode Island

Attorney Friel does not believe in one-size fits all solutions or packages. Each client has unique needs and desires. He tailors his solutions and our services to fit your personal goals. He views each client as an individual and therefore concentrate on providing individual service. He considers himself to be your partner in defining your objectives and working together to achieve the results you want.

If you do not plan your estate in advance, you will be relinquishing any control over what happens to you and your assets – the things you have worked so hard to acquire – upon incapacity or death. It will be left to a judge to appoint someone to handle your personal care and assets in the event you become incapacitated or upon death.

Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Simply put, estate planning is done to protect your loved ones’ futures. It is the greatest gift you can give them. Estate planning is the process of creating a deliberate plan to manage and distribute your assets as well as carrying out your wishes regarding caretaking of your person or remains upon your incapacity or death. This process requires you to gather together all of your assets and make decisions as to who shall receive them. It requires you to evaluate the financial and tax consequences of those actions and prepare for them.

Everyone needs to consider estate planning whether their estate is large or small. Without the protection of an estate plan, your loved ones are vulnerable to the decisions of a judge and state laws, as well as substantial taxes and probate costs. The estate plan will ensure your assets go to the individuals you want. The plan may not completely eliminate taxes and probate costs, but it can substantially reduce them.

Advice You Can Rely Upon For Your Family

Estate planning is not just about your assets, it is also about you. What happens to you if you become incapacitated and unable to make health care and personal care decisions for yourself? If your wishes are not legally documented, your care may be in the hands of someone appointed by a judge. You must plan ahead so your wishes are known and can be legally enforced.

Estate planning is the necessary protection so all your wishes can be followed. It is the legal avenue that gives you a say in what happens to you and your assets. It is a way of preserving your assets for your beneficiaries and reducing or postponing the amount of estate tax that might be payable after your death.

Probate and estate planning are complicated and sensitive issues. It is extremely important to have an attorney you can work with and who will consider what is best for you and your beneficiaries. Make sure you have the protection you need and your family deserves.