Settling an estate takes time and money. You can ease the settlement process for your own estate by planning ahead. Here are three ways to help your family member’s navigate your affairs when you pass away. Safe Storage of Documents Upon your death your family will have to gather up all of your estate documents and meet with an attorney. You can make this process easier by storing your documents in a safe but easy to find location. Some common storage places include: safe deposit boxes, … [Read more...] about Ease Estate Settlement for Your Loved Ones
An executor is a person or institution tasked with carrying out your wishes and handling your estate after you pass away. The executor is legally obligated to meet your wishes and act in the best interest of your estate after you die. Normally, an executor is chosen and named when preparing a Will or estate plan. Should you die without a Will, the court will appoint someone – known as a personal representative - to perform the duties normally assigned to an executor. Since the executor’s … [Read more...] about Choosing Your Executor: Paid or Unpaid?
Probate is a legal process the courts use to take inventory of your estate and distribute your assets after you pass away. In addition to dispersing your belongings, it also ensures that all your outstanding debts have been paid and when probate is complete, that your estate is completely dissolved. To accomplish this feat, the probate court relies on the executor you named in your Will or on a personal representative designated by the court if no Will exists. This person is responsible for … [Read more...] about What is Probate?
When your estate gets to probate court, it can be classified in one of two ways: solvent or insolvent. Solvent means that there are still assets left over after all the debts have been paid. These assets are then distributed to the heirs as outlined in your Will or if there is no Will, in accordance with state law. An insolvent estate on the other hand, is one where the debts exceed the value of the assets. In this instance, all the assets are sold off but cannot completely cover the … [Read more...] about Solvent vs. Insolvent: What's the Difference?
Most people are familiar with joint versus individual ownership of property, but did you know that there’s a third way to own property? It’s through contract rights, and this type of ownership can have a large impact on your estate plan. In general, property in which someone holds contract rights is not subject to probate. Examples of this type of property include payable on death accounts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and revocable living trusts. Payable on death accounts … [Read more...] about How Do Contract Rights Fit Into Your Estate Plan?
A trust is a legal entity that survives the person who created it. The basic purpose of creating a trust is to ensure easy distribution of assets to the beneficiaries without going through the often lengthy procedure known as probate. The assets covered or transferred in the name of a trust are easily passed on to the named beneficiaries after the death of the trust maker, but what about assets not held within the trust? How are those handled? The simple answer is any assets not held … [Read more...] about What Happens to Assets Not Included in a Trust?
We all know how important it is to create a Will, but what happens if we don’t? Where will your assets go? How will your estate be divided? All fair questions – and here’s the answer: if you die without a Will, your estate will be distributed according to what is known as intestacy or “succession” laws. And if that happens, it probably won’t be done in the way you might have liked. Intestacy law basically is a law that determines who has a right to inherit in the case where there is no … [Read more...] about What Happens if You Don't Have a Will?
A Reciprocal Will is the go-to estate planning document for most married couples. Based on the idea that a married couple will likely have the same wishes for their estate, their Wills are created to “mirror” each other so that no matter which spouse dies first, the estate is handled in essentially the same way. There are of course, instances where Reciprocal Wills may vary slightly. While both you and your spouse will name each other as executors and primary beneficiaries, you may have … [Read more...] about What is a Reciprocal Will?
The cost of probate can vary widely, and really depends on how large the estate is and how smoothly the probate process goes. While there’s no real way to quote an exact cost, there are some standard fees you can expect to encounter during probate process: 1) Court costs: These are charged for every probate filing. 2) Attorney’s Fees: Attorney’s fees can vary depending on the complexity of administering the estate or completing the probate process. If a will contest is filed or if the need … [Read more...] about How Much Does Probate Cost?
When someone dies, there are often many loose ends to tie up. Creditors need to be paid, existing real estate must be dealt with, and the estate needs to be organized. Probate is the legal process of sorting out a person’s estate upon death under court supervision. And while probate will certainly get the job done, there are usually better ways to do it. Why Avoid Probate? One of the main reasons many people want to steer clear of probate court is because it can be a long and drawn-out … [Read more...] about How To Avoid Probate