Estate planning is an important part of life and death. During your life, appropriate estate planning will help you organize your assets and may enable you to take advantage of tax or other benefits. After your death, an organized and thought-out estate plan will provide a set of specific instructions concerning the settlement of your estate, avoid and manage disagreements between loved ones and other persons, and decrease the costs of administering your estate.
There are many types of estate planning tools. They range from pay-on-death and joint account designations to more encompassing documents such as, Last Will and Testaments, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, and Trusts. Moreover, it is important to remember that all estate planning tools are not created equal. For example, a Will is subject to a probate proceeding, while a Trust is not.
At Logan & Lowry, LLP we assist clients in the creation of an organized and thought-out estate plan. Our practice offers flexibility and is tailored to the needs of our clients. For many, we provide the full range of estate planning, while others seek our assistance on specific estate planning documents or amendments to existing documents. Contact us to learn more about estate planning tools and which estate plan is right for you.
Probate is a statutory procedure used by courts to administer and distribute the estates of deceased persons (“decedents”) to the heirs, legatees, and devisees of the decedents.
A decedent whose Will is accepted by the probate court is described as having died “testate,” while a decedent whose estate is admitted to probate court without a Will is described as having died “intestate.”
During the probate proceeding, the decedent’s Will can be a useful tool. Among other things, many Wills contain provisions allowing the personal representative to serve without a bond and sell property without first seeking approval from the court. Wills designate legatees, which are persons or entities who receive personal property under the Will, and devisees, which are persons or entities who receive real property under the Will. A Will will also name the natural or adopted heirs of the decedent.
Additionally, a Will may alter intestacy succession as provided by statute. Under statute, when a decedent dies intestate the estate is distributed among the heirs according to their status as determined by intestacy succession. For example, if the decedent left a surviving husband or wife, and only one child, each would receive equal shares of the decedent’s estate. However, a Will may alter this default provision to leave the entire estate to the surviving husband or wife.
One of the main functions of a probate proceeding is to gather the property of the decedent and to hold that property for distribution to the heirs, legatees, and devisees. To this end, the personal representative of the estate is charged with compiling an inventory and general opinion of value and/or facilitating the appraisement of said property.
Probate proceedings are also used to settle the debts and liabilities of the decedent. To this end, the personal representative is charged with notifying known creditors and publishing notice to creditors to discovery creditors unknown to the personal representative.
In many cases, an average probate proceeding will take approximately seven (7) to nine (9) months to complete. However, the time needed to complete a probate proceeding is highly dependent on the issues that arise during the administration of the estate.
At Logan & Lowry, LLP we assist clients, whether as the personal representatives, as heirs, legatees, and devisees, or as creditors of the estate, with navigating probate proceedings from start to finish. Our practice offers flexibility and is tailored to the needs of our clients. For many, we provide the full range of assistance, while others seek our assistance on specific probate proceeding issues. Contact us to learn more.