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Importance of Probate Wills and Estate Planning to Protect Inheritance Property


Probate wills refer to Wills which must undergo the probate process. Unless a person establishes a trust to protect inheritance property, their Will must be presented to probate court for validation and directives of distribution of estate assets. Inheritance assets cannot be distributed until decedents’ estates are settled according to probate law and directives of the Will.

When decedents die without probate wills, estate settlement can be prolonged for several months. Inheritance property is distributed according to state probate laws and may not be in the manner the decedent wanted. Therefore, it is crucial for everyone aged 18 and over to execute a final Will and establish beneficiaries to receive assets upon death.

Probated estates are settled by an estate administrator. This person is appointed in the last Will and is often the surviving spouse or relative to the decedent. Some states require estate administrators to undergo court confirmation and obtain approval for all aspects of estate management. Other states allow estate executors to manage the estate without court interference. It is best to consult with a probate attorney to ensure management of probate wills adheres to state protocol.

Estate executors are responsible for a myriad of duties including: securing inheritance property, obtaining property appraisals, paying outstanding debts, filing a final tax return, and distributing inheritance gifts to named beneficiaries.

If outstanding debts exceed the estate’s financial holdings, estate administrator may need to hire a probate lawyer to negotiate with creditors. In some cases, the court will require Administrators to sell assets to satisfy debt obligations.

In addition to outstanding debts, decedent estates are responsible for medical and funeral expenses. If decedents owned real estate secured by a mortgage note, the estate must pay all expenses associated with the property including loan installments, property insurance and taxes, homeowner’s association dues, and any required maintenance. If the estate is financially incapable of maintaining the real estate, a judge can order the property sold.

While heirs are not required to pay estate-related expenses, they will sometimes pay mortgage installments in order to prevent foreclosure. If heirs do not want to keep the property, they can sell it during the probate process to eliminate financial burdens. Most states require court authorization to sell real estate holdings.

Probate wills are also used to establish guardianship for minor children. Married couples often neglect to appoint guardians, but this can be a tragic mistake. If both parents die, minor children can become a ward of the state until suitable living arrangements are made. If relatives want to care for the children they will have to undergo investigation by the Department of Children and Families, which can take several months to complete.

Individuals can use probate wills to disinherit direct lineage heirs. It is important to include a disinheritance clause which explains the reason heirs are written out of the Will. By law, inheritance property is given to direct lineage heirs unless heirs are intentionally disinherited.

Probate wills provide everyone with the opportunity to have the final say upon death. Without one, probate laws dictate distribution of property and estates can be suspended in the court system for months, or years.

Executing a legal last will and testament is the best gift anyone can leave loved ones. Dying without a Will (intestate) prolongs estate settlement and can potentially bankrupt the estate, leaving nothing for heirs.


Source by Simon Volkov

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