Beneficiaries of the Decedent's
Beneficiaries are individuals who inherit property and assets from a person who has passed away. Beneficiaries can include spouses, children, direct lineage relatives such as sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles, or close personal friends. Beneficiaries can also include organizations such as charities or educational institutions.
Beneficiaries are usually designated in the decedent's Will. When the decedent executes their Last Will and Testament they instruct who they want to receive their personal belongings and financial holdings. An Administrator or Estate Executor is appointed in the Will and is responsible for settling the decedent's estate and distributing assets.
Unless the decedent has executed a Revocable or Irrevocable Living Trust, their estate must be placed in probate. Probate takes place in the county where the decedent resided. Everything the decedent owned is held in probate to ensure all outstanding debts are paid and assets are transferred according to probate laws.
Depending on the complexity of the estate and the workload of the court, probate can take several months or even years to settle. Some assets can avoid probate by assigning beneficiaries to bank accounts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts and investment portfolios. Real estate can be transferred to beneficiaries through Joint Tenants of Survivorship.
Automobiles, recreational vehicles, boats and motorcycles can be titled in the name of the decedent and the beneficiary. The named beneficiary will be required to present a death certificate and obtain a new title for property received. Assets covered by these titles can be transferred to beneficiaries outside the probate estate.
Assets which can be transferred outside of probate do not require administration by the estate executor. Beneficiaries of titled assets are required to file appropriate paperwork to transfer assets into their name.
During probate, the Administrator is required to inventory all personal belongings and ensure titled assets have been properly transferred. They must contact creditors, Social Security Administration, Medicare, Veteran's Administration and other government agencies the decedent received benefits from. Administrators are also required to pay outstanding debts and file a final tax return on behalf of the decedent.
Most people prefer to work with a probate attorney to ensure the estate is handled appropriately. Hiring a probate lawyer is a good idea if the estate is complex or when family discord exists. The services of a probate attorney is usually required if an heir apparent contests the Will.
Although most people do not enjoy thinking about who will receive their belongings upon their death, estate planning can reduce the amount of stress for your loved ones. Dying without executing a Will creates an enormous burden and opens the door for beneficiaries to fight over your belongings.
Estate planning can be accomplished with or without legal counsel. Preformatted Wills can be purchased at office supply stores and through various online sources. Simply fill in the blanks, obtain two witness signatures and have the document signed by a Notary Public.
Experts suggest keeping the original Will and supporting documents in a safe location. A copy should be provided to the designated Administrator, along with instructions of where life insurance policies, real estate and automobile titles, and other crucial documents are kept.
Beneficiaries entitled to assets held in probate can obtain cash for inheritance if they are facing financial hardship. If you are entitled to probate property, contact Simon Volkov to discuss options available for selling inheritance property.
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