You may be wondering how your affairs will be handled after your death, whether you have an estate plan in place, or not. Take a look at some of the information below, to better understand how your affairs will be handled if you do indeed have a plan. Part 1 of this 2 part article discusses what happens if you do NOT have an estate plan in place.
With an estate plan…
If you only have a will in place, your affairs will likely still have to go through the probate process. This is because assets that are individually owned in your name are subject to probate. The probate court will guide your executor (which you have named in your will) throughout all of your affairs.
Your will is used to determine how your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries. Additionally, the court will use your will to determine and appoint a guardian for your minor children. While a will gives you control over how your affairs will be handled, the probate process is still lengthy, costly, and public.
Many people plan to avoid probate. If you have a revocable living trust, the assets will not pass through probate so long as they are properly titled in the name of your trust. Instead, your trustee (who you name in your trust) will follow the instructions in the trust document, to handle your affairs. This includes distributing your assets to your beneficiaries. Because trust assets aren’t subject to probate, your affairs will be kept private, and you can save time and money. This typically also means that your beneficiaries will get their inheritances more quickly than if the assets had gone through probate.
Create a comprehensive estate plan with the help of an experienced, qualified estate planning attorney. This will allow you to make important decisions ahead of time, and makes it possible for you to understand and control how your affairs will be handled.
If you have any questions, or if you’d like to begin creating your estate plan, consult with a qualified, experienced estate planning attorney.