The word 'estate' refers to items owned by individuals who have died. An estate can consist of the decedent's home, car, personal belongings and valuable assets such as jewelry or collectable artwork.
When a person dies their estate must be settled through a process known as probate. The exception is when decedents establish a trust. Many types of trusts exist. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Trusts are generally reserved for estates valued over $100,000; however, strategies exist for smaller estates to avoid probate.
The probate process is used to validate decedents' last will and testament. Time must be given to locate missing heirs and to ensure the last will adheres to probate laws. A probate personal representative is appointed within the will to handle duties associated with settling the estate.
Estate administration duties can range from filing legal documents to selling real estate or negotiating with creditors to reduce outstanding balances owed by the decedent. The Internal Revenue Service requires estate administrator's to file a final tax return for the decedent within nine months from the date of death.
Many aspects of probate exist. Much depends on the type and value of assets owned. Estate assets are generally gifted to the surviving spouse and children. However, decedents can bequeath belongings to whomever they desire.
When heirs feel they are entitled to something they did not receive through the Will or if they were intentionally disinherited, they have the right to contest the Will. This act can prolong probate for months or even years. In most cases, the only people who benefit from a contested will are the probate lawyers.
Engaging in estate planning is the best way to prevent family discord from occurring. Death tends to bring out the best and worst in people. When family strife exists, death can magnify dysfunctional relationships and create situations that are difficult to diffuse.
When family dysfunction exists, estate planning experts recommend appointing a lawyer as the estate administrator. People are less likely to contest the will when a neutral party is controlling the estate.
Experts also advise designating a probate lawyer when the estate consists of real estate and financial holdings and when decedents owe high levels of outstanding debts. Probate lawyers can handle complicated matters more efficiently than an inexperienced relative or friend.
Most people appoint their spouse or adult child to manage their estate. While it is natural to designate a loved one to this position, doing so can add additional stress to loved ones during their time of grief.
When executing a last will and testament it is best to consult with a professional estate planner to determine the best course of action. When appointing family members as probate executors, consider designating a primary and secondary administrator. Should the primary executor be unable to perform duties, the second administrator can quickly step into the role. This technique can help expedite the probate process.
Multiple options exist to protect inheritance assets and ensure they are distributed according to your wishes. We encourage you to learn more about probate, inheritance and trusts in our estate article library. Here you will find information and resources to help make the best decision for your circumstances.
If you are currently administrating an estate and need to sell assets in order to settle probate, Simon Volkov might be able to help. Simon specializes in buying estate assets and is particularly interested in estates with real estate holdings, cash flow notes and financial assets.
Simon also buys inheritance assets from beneficiaries entitled to assets held in probate. If you need to obtain cash for inheritance, contact Simon Volkov to determine available options.
Published on November 07, 2009 at 02:54 AM