3 Common Estate Planning Questions

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When it comes to estate planning, a lot of questions come up. Your estate planning attorney can help you understand all the different aspects of estate planning. Here are the three most important estate planning questions you should ask your attorney.

What Is Estate Planning?

An estate plan involves putting together legal documents that indicate how you want your wealth distributed when you die. Your estate planning attorney deals with the entire estate planning process. It also involves directions on how people should handle financial and health decisions on your behalf if you're unable to do so. Some essential estate planning documents are a will, trust, power of attorney, personal property memorandum, and living will.

An estate plan enables you to be more confident about your future knowing your beneficiaries are well cared for when you die. Estate planning helps you minimize probate and tax fees. Failing to make an estate plan can lead to complications for your descendants including conflicts and unfair distribution of your wealth. 

What Is Interstate?

Intestate is when you die without a will. In such a situation, there's no legal document to establish the distribution of your assets and estate when you die. The division of your property is dependent on legal procedures instead of your wishes. Your estate attorney will advise you against not creating a will.

Intestate laws vary depending on your jurisdiction. Based on the level of intestate, all real estate, bank accounts, life insurance proceeds, annuities, and more will go to the wrong person. If you die without a will, the state will determine the distribution of your wealth. Your estate will go through probate. In such a situation, multiple people can make a claim to your estate.

What Is Probate?

Probate is a legal procedure involved with distributing your wealth when you die. This can happen whether you have a will or not. Probate involves proving to the court that a deceased person's will is valid. It also involves the appraisal of property, paying taxes and debts, and inventorying the dead person's property.

Probate distributes the remaining wealth as indicated in the will or by following state law procedures if there's no will. Probate involves court appearances and paperwork by attorneys. The court fees and attorneys are deducted from the estate property, money which would, under normal circumstances, go to the people who inherit the deceased's property.

When many people hear about estate planning, they generally assume it's all about making a will. However, there's a lot that goes into estate planning than creation of wills. The entire estate planning process involves securing the interests of a person regarding their wealth when they die. To ensure you handle the estate planning process correctly, you need to work with an estate planning attorney. Contact an estate planning attorney for more information.