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While most people throughout Vermont know that the estate planning process is very common, it is not unusual to be unaware of exactly how the process works. There are lots of misconceptions about estate planning, including a mistaken belief that only the wealthy need to worry about it or that your plan is complete once you have made a will. If you buy into the misconceptions and don’t get professional legal help making your estate plan, you could end up making life harder for your family and you could end up seeing the value of your estate diminish.
You do not need to make estate planning mistakes, or try to handle estate planning on your own. You can reach out to Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC for invaluable assistance on estate planning. Our legal team can help take care of everything for you, from working with you to define your goals to making the most effective possible use of Vermont’s legal tools for estate planning.
Give us a call at (802) 879-7133 or contact us online to speak with a member of our legal team about how we can assist you. You can also check out answers to some of the most common estate planning questions below so you can get an idea of what to expect and why estate planning is so important.
- What is probate?
- What are some problems with probate?
- What are the responsibilities of the executor?
- How can you avoid probate?
- What happens if you die without a will?
- What is intestate succession?
- Why is it important to choose a guardian for your child?
- Why do you need an estate planning attorney?
Probate is a process by which a person’s assets are transferred after death. Unless the assets are held in trust, jointly held, or otherwise fall outside of the probate estate, the assets a deceased person owned must go through probate. During probate, creditors are notified of the death so they can make claims, and interested parties including beneficiaries are also provided with appropriate notice. A determination is made on whether there is a valid will and, if so, assets transfer according to the instructions in the will. Find out more here about probate.
Although probate is a very common way for assets to transfer after a death, it is not the only way. Probate can be time consuming because there must be an opportunity provided for creditor claims and because the case must work its way through the probate court system. Fees during probate can eat into the value of an inheritance. Those waiting for their inheritance may also be worried about money as they wait out the probate period. The value of assets can also suffer due to the period of uncertainty or a lack of knowledge on the part of the executor. Find out more about the problem with probate.
An executor who is chosen in a will is given the responsibility of transferring the assets of the deceased person. Executors have to take care of court paperwork to initiate the probate process. It is the executor’s job to provide required and appropriate notice of the probate process to creditors and other interested parties. Executors also have to take responsibility for managing assets and must always act in the best interests of the deceased and beneficiaries. Find out more here about responsibilities of the executor.
It is possible for you to avoid probate by making use of other methods of transferring your property. You can use trusts and have your property transfer through trust administration. You can make gifts during your lifetime, which are called inter vivos gifts. You can structure the ownership of assets and of accounts so that the accounts and property transfer automatically to co-owners after your death. An estate planning attorney can help you with the process of facilitating the transfer of your wealth outside of probate. Learn more here about avoiding probate.
If you die without a will but there have been other estate planning steps taken, it may not matter that you have no will. Your assets will transfer via trust administration and using the other mechanisms that you set in place for transfer. If you die without a will and you die without having made plans to distribute your assets, then intestate succession laws will apply to determine what happens to your property. These default laws aim to make certain that your assets appropriately transfer to your close relatives. Find out more here about what happens if you die without a will.
Intestate succession occurs when someone passes away without leaving a last will and testament or otherwise making an estate plan. There must be some way to make informed decisions on how the assets of the deceased person will transfer under these circumstances, so intestate succession laws dictate how the property transfers. These laws provide details on how money and property should be divided among close relatives, depending upon who the surviving family members of the deceased person are. You can learn more about intestate succession here.
If you and your child’s other parent pass away before your child reaches adulthood, you need to make sure you have chosen an appropriate person to raise your child. You should do this by naming a guardian for your child. It is important to carefully consider who you believe can be an appropriate guardian. Think about their ability and willingness to raise a small child as you make this decision. Learn more here about your choice of a guardian and your children’s future.
These questions are just a few of the queries that you may have when it comes to making sure you create a proper and comprehensive estate plan. An experienced Vermont estate planning attorney can provide you with invaluable assistance in assessing your specific situation and making a plan that works best for you and the people you love.
Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC cares about helping our clients and we will make the estate planning process as easy and effective as possible. Give us a call at (802) 879-7133 or contact us online to speak with a member of our legal team to learn more.