Estate planning is something that most people are not particularly anxious to think about. But at the same time, as they say, no one here gets out alive. Going through life without making any preparations for something that is definitely going to take place really doesn’t make a lot of sense.
If you do decide to put the wheels in motion and begin to look into the process of estate planning, you will hear about something called probate. When you use a last will to express your final wishes, the distributions of your resources to your heirs would not take place immediately.
You would name an executor or personal representative in the document to act as the estate administrator, and this person or entity would admit the will to probate
The probate court would supervise while the executor conducts the business of the estate. What is this business you ask? You have to understand the fact that the estate may not completely belong to the people who are named in the last will as inheritors.
Creditors may have valid outstanding claims, and one of the purposes of probate is to give them an opportunity to come forward seeking satisfaction. It is the job of the executor to make sure that the debts are paid, and final debts will often include taxes.
In addition to the settling of debts, the executor must prepare the assets for distribution to the heirs. This can involve a great deal more than simply writing checks to distribute liquidity. The property that comprises the estate may come in various different forms. As a result, appraisals and liquidation may be necessary.
It is also possible for someone to step forward to challenge the last will during the probate process. The probate court would hear these arguments.
When all of the tasks have been completed to the satisfaction of the court, the estate would be closed, and the executor would be given the green light to distribute the assets to the heirs.
Incapacity is very common among elders, in large part due to the ubiquity of Alzheimer’s disease. It strikes four out of every 10 people that are at least 85 years of age, and people with Alzheimer’s induced dementia will eventually become unable to make sound decisions on their own.
When an adult can no longer handle their own affairs due to incapacity, interested parties can petition the probate court to appoint a guardian. This individual would be able to act on behalf of the incapacitated person.
Though probate serves a purpose, when it comes to the asset transfer part of the equation, it is time-consuming, and considerable expenses can accumulate during the process. It is possible to take steps to arrange for asset transfers outside of probate when you are planning your estate. With regard to guardianship, you could choose your own representatives to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacity in advance. When you are proactive, you can go forward with the knowledge that your own hand-picked decision makers will be ready to spring into action if and when it is necessary.
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As you can see, the estate administration process can be rather complicated when a last will is used as an asset transfer vehicle, and incapacity is a looming threat. Given these realities, you should certainly discuss all of your options with a licensed estate planning attorney so that you can make fully informed decisions.
We know that it can be difficult to talk about these sensitive subjects with someone that you have just met. You can rest assured that we fully understand this dynamic, and everyone on our team will make you feel right at home from the first moment that you walk through our doors.
If you are ready to set the wheels in motion, you can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 802-879-7133.