Estate & Probate Lawyer Services

How is my property transferred at death?

Property is transferred at death in several ways:

. Valid will – A legal document created to express how a person desires his or her property to be distributed at death. It also names one or more persons to manage the estate through its final distribution. 

. Beneficiary designations – Examples include life insurance policies, death benefits of a retirement plan, prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, etc. 

. Operation of law – A legal term indicating that a right or liability has been created for a party, irrespective of the intent of that party, because it is dictated by existing legal principles. For example, jointly owned property with right of survivorship. 

. State law – This will typically come into play if no will is presented for probate for a deceased.

More estate-planning frequently asked questions

Hiring estate planning professionals is expensive. Can I prepare my own will and figure out a plan all by myself?

Yes, but this is not recommended. Many states allow residents to prepare their own wills, and some retail stores or websites offer will kits and software. However, a self-prepared will, without the assistance of estate planning professionals, can be easily attacked by discontented beneficiaries after your death, can leave loopholes for unintended beneficiaries, and in many situations, be considered invalid right from the start.

What is estate planning? I am not wealthy, why do I need to have an estate plan?

Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the management and disposal of your estate during your life, as well as at and after death, while minimizing gift, estate, generation skipping, and income tax. A will is part of the estate plan. Depending on the complexity of the situation, an estate planner might use other tools such as trusts, pass-through entities and/or life insurance to accomplish your estate planning goals.

I was listed in the will as a beneficiary of certain assets. Why didn’t I inherit the assets?

Estate properties can be passed by will, beneficiary designation, operation of law and state law. Under most circumstances, passing of property by beneficiary designation and operation of law is not influenced by the will. For example, life insurance proceeds pass outside the will to the named beneficiary, be it mentioned in the will or not, as do the death benefit proceeds from a retirement plan.

How is my property transferred at death?

Property is transferred at death in several ways:

. Valid will – A legal document created to express how a person desires his or her property to be distributed at death. It also names one or more persons to manage the estate through its final distribution. 

. Beneficiary designations – Examples include life insurance policies, death benefits of a retirement plan, prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, etc. 

. Operation of law – A legal term indicating that a right or liability has been created for a party, irrespective of the intent of that party, because it is dictated by existing legal principles. For example, jointly owned property with right of survivorship. 

. State law – This will typically come into play if no will is presented for probate for a deceased.

What does the Estate process entail?

An executor, established in the decedent’s will, determines the value of the estate, the names of beneficiaries, and assesses what is due to each beneficiary. Once submitted and approved by the Probate Court, the assets are distributed to beneficiaries.

How long does the Estate process take?

From three months to 18 months or more, depending on estate complexity

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