Intestate estates in Vermont come with specific laws that govern estate settling and planning. An intestate estate is one that is absent a valid will. It could be that there existed a will at some point, but was determined to be invalid or it could be that a will never existed at any point. Because of these laws, it’s crucial you find a Vermont estate planning lawyer who can help you put together a distribution of assets based on your wishes. Otherwise, should your estate be left with no valid will, your assets will be divided between your spouse and any blood relatives. Technically, your second cousin that you’ve not seen since you were kids could be in line for a piece of your estate.
Taking it a step further, an intestate estate is an open invitation for any family member, no matter how far removed, to put the wheels in motion that could jeopardize your surviving spouse’s quality of life or plans for the future you have made. It’s as simple as filing a petition. From there, a Vermont court will order a hearing while also naming someone to oversee the estate probate. Moving forward, if your spouse and other relatives do not object to the petition, the process can unfold a bit easier; however, should that play out, it’s always best to conduct due diligence to ensure there are no more unknown relatives who might suddenly appear.
Here’s where things can get a bit complicated when it comes to intestate estates in Vermont. There is no hard-lined definition of “interested persons” in these cases. They vary from case to case.
Intestate Estates in Vermont: Executor or Administrator?
Vermont defines an “administrator” as one who is appointed to oversee intestate estates while those who leave a testate estate will name an “executor”. Both are sometimes referred to Fiduciaries, which in its simplest terms is someone who acts on behalf of the deceased.
Administrators may be required to file a bond with the courts, which is basically a promise that the administrator will carry out the duty with “faithful performance”. Further, the fiduciary in charge of managing and eventually distributing the estate will have the responsibility of authorizing various financial transactions. Regardless of whether one is named an administrator or executor, he must secure the estate.
Securing the Estate
Securing an estate can sometimes mean lining up appraisals, storage facilities and conducting an inventory. When done properly, it can eliminate accusations between family members later on about lost, stolen, or damaged pieces. The detailed inventory must also be filed with the court within thirty days of the appointment. While it can be a bit overwhelming, it’s an important part of carrying out one’s last wishes. Intestate estates in Vermont complicate these efforts tremendously.
After those assets have been memorialized on paper, the fiduciary must then determine what, if any, debts must be paid. These debts can include those occurring both before and after death. While it sounds quite functional, the fact is, there are laws that dictate how and when those debts are paid.
For these reasons, and many more, you can see why an intestate will is not ideal. Our Vermont estate planning attorneys can keep all of those dynamics in check so that you no longer have to worry about what happens when.
Schedule your consultation and we’ll be happy to go over all of our estate planning services. Our elder law and estate planning attorneys stand ready to lift that burden from your shoulders. A reactive approach today prevents a reactive approach later for your family.