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Estate Planning Probate

Estate planning probate involves preparing legal documents which outline how you want your property and personal belongings distributed upon your death. While this task may seem unimportant if you are young and in good health, procrastinating about estate planning could potentially create a tremendous financial burden for your family should you unexpectedly die.

Estate planning probate is best handled by a qualified probate lawyer. This type of attorney can assist you in every aspect of planning for probate. Depending on the size of your estate, you might be able to avoid probate through the use of payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) assignments. Individuals who own real estate and financial investments may want to consider executing a Revocable Living Trust.

There are many aspects involved to estate planning. Bank accounts, financial investments, IRA's, real estate, automobiles, recreational vehicles and personal belongings can be given to anyone you wish. However, if you do not specify your wishes through estate planning, a probate judge will make these decisions for you upon your death.

Certain laws pertain to assets held in probate. Each state within the U.S. territory has a set of established probate laws. However, in most instances bank accounts, real estate and other financial holdings will automatically transfer to your spouse. If you do not have a spouse, probate assets are generally transferred to your children or direct lineage relatives such as your parents or siblings.

The only way to guarantee your assets will be distributed according to your wishes is through estate planning. This typically consists of executing a Last Will and Testament, assigning beneficiaries to life insurance policies and setting up POD and TOD designations.

Revocable Living Trusts are generally reserved for estates valued at $100,000 or more. In addition to avoiding the probate process all together, trusts keep your information private. A Last Will and Testament is executed within the trust and does not become a matter of public record. Without a trust, Wills are filed in the probate court and become public record. Anyone who has an interest in the document can view it by accessing probate records.

Estate planning probate is not a difficult task. It simply requires the organization of paperwork and documenting what you own and who you want to give it to when you die. Estate planning will continue throughout your life and should be updated when assets or financial portfolios are added or deleted. Updates should be made if intended heirs or the named estate executor dies. Although the attorney will charge a nominal fee for making changes, it is worth the investment to ensure your family is protected in the event of your death.