Losing a loved one is a sad and challenging event. In the aftermath of a loved one’s passing, it oftentimes is necessary to undertake what is known as the probate process in order to deal with that person’s estate. With this in mind, there are some essential elements associated with the probate process that are crucial to understand.
The Probate Process: Addressing Assets
On the surface, the probate process can seem complicated. In fact, when distilled to its essence, the probate process addresses a number of basic tasks in the aftermath of a person’s death. These include:
One of the primary tasks associated with the probate process is transferring the ownership of assets from the person who has passed away to his or her heirs or beneficiaries. This occurs in one of two different ways.
In some cases, a person dies with a last will and testament. The will governs how the property is to be distributed among heirs or beneficiaries.
In other instances, a person does not have a last will and testament when he or she dies. In those situations, the laws of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania govern the manner in which the assets of the deceased individual are distributed among the heirs or beneficiaries.
The Probate Process: Addressing Debts
The probate process is also designed to address the debts accumulated by the individual who has died. These debts oftentimes include those associated with that person’s law illness and death itself.
Valid debts must be paid first. Only after the debts are paid, including taxes, can a determination be made as to what assets are available to be distributed to the heirs of beneficiaries.
Validity of the Will
Another element in some probate proceedings is validating the will or determining whether the will meets the requirements of the laws of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If the will is deemed not to be valid, the laws of Pennsylvania will then govern how the assets are distributed.
Retaining a Pennsylvania Probate Lawyer
When facing the prospect of the probate process, retaining an experienced attorney is a wise course of action to take. A Pennsylvania probate lawyer will schedule an initial consultation at no cost to the prospective client.
If you are like many individuals, you’ve given thought to the need for comprehensive estate planning, but you’ve done nothing about it. You’ve talked about comprehensive estate planning, but haven’t spoken with an estate attorney. There are five key facts about comprehensive estate planning to bear in mind. Considering these facts may motivate you to schedule a prompt appointment with an experienced estate lawyer.
Comprehensive Estate Planning is Not Just for Wealthy Individuals
A common misconception is that comprehensive estate planning is only for wealthy, well-healed folks. In reality, nearly everyone benefits from comprehensive estate planning. The starting point is scheduling a consultation with an estate lawyer. There is no charge for an initial consult regarding the need for an estate plan.
Absent Comprehensive Estate Planning, the State Runs the Show
You must keep in mind that if you do not estate plan, the state runs the show when you pass away. Without an estate plan, the laws of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania dictate what happens to your property when you die. Your wishes, whatever they may be, become complete irrelevant.
Proper Comprehensive Estate Planning Can Protect Children Financially
If you have minor children, or if you have adult children who may not be the best money managers, estate planning is a must. Through a properly crafted estate plan, you ensure that your minor children are taken care of after you pass. A solid estate plan ensures that your adult children are taken care of but that they do not waste money or assets in a frivolous manner.
Comprehensive Estate Planning is Crucial for Non-Traditional Relationships
If you are in a non-traditional relationship, you must develop an estate plan. For example, if you live with your significant other, but are not married, you must have an estate plan in place. Once again, the absence of an estate plan in this type of situation results in the laws of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania determining where your property goes after death. Your significant other can be effectively locked out of receiving your property if you die without a suitable estate plan in place.
It’s Never Too Early to Start Estate Planning
You are never too young and it is never too early to begin comprehensive estate planning. Make an appointment with a qualified estate attorney today to schedule a no-cost initial consultation to analyze you specific needs, goals and objectives.
There is a long overused cliché: The only thing certain and life is death and taxes. When it comes to death and dying, there are some interesting estate and probate facts worth pondering.
The Origin of “Last Will and Testament”
One of the more interesting estate and probate facts is the origin of the term “last will and testament.” Historically, will was utilized to distribute real estate when a person died. Testament was the term associated with distributing personal property after death.
Estate and Probate Facts: Longest Will Probated
The longest will ever probated by a court was in the United Kingdom. The estate itself was rather small, having a value of about $100,000. The will ran 1,066 pages and almost 96,000 words.
Estate and Probate Facts: Shortest Wills in Modern Times
There are two wills tied for the shortest in modern times, one written in India, the other in Germany. One will read: “All to wife.” The other will read: “All to son.”
The Actor and the Skull
An actor named Del Close includes a provision in his will that donated his skull to Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. His intention was to play Yorick in the Shakespeare play Hamlet after his death. (Yorick appears only as a skull in the iconic play.) In the end, no one would agree to remove the head from the dead actor’s body and the bequest remained unfulfilled.
The Oldest Will in History
The oldest known will in history dates back to 2548 B.C. in Egypt. A man named Uah left all of his property to his wife Teta.
Living Wills – Something Relatively New
Although wills have been around for centuries, living wills are of fairly recent origin. The living will was first permitted in the United States in the state of California in 1976.
Estate and Probate Facts: Howard Hughes
One of the wealthiest – and arguably most unusual – Americans in recent history died without a will. The lack of a will caused considerable chaos in the aftermath of the eccentric billionaire’s passing.
Retain an Estate Attorney
Perhaps the most important estate and probate fact is the need to retain a qualified, experienced estate and probate attorney. Proactive estate planning is the best course to take to ensure a person’s wishes are carried out at the time of death.
If you are in a non-traditional relationship, estate planning is a must. Non-traditional estate planning has become a major issue in this day and age, with so many people living in a wide range of different types of relationships. This particularly includes individuals who live together without the benefits associated with a traditional marriage.
The Reality of No Estate Planning
The stark reality of a lack of non-traditional estate planning is that when you pass, your loved one will not benefit in any way, shape or form from your estate. For example, assume that you’ve lived with your partner for years, decades even. You pass on. Despite the length of your relationship, despite the commitment to your significant other, all of your assets will pass so a family member or family members as set forth in the statutes of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Side Arrangements with Family Members are No Substitute for Non-Traditional Estate Planning
Time and time again, a person in a non-traditional relationship makes what can best be described as a side deal or side arrangement with a family member (or family members) in lieu of proper estate planning. A person requests that a family member “take care of” his or her significant partner when the individual seeking help from a relative passes away. The person asks a family member to make sure his or her relationship partner “gets my property” when death occurs. This may sound like you. And, if it does you are not alone.
The odds of a family member honoring your desires informally expressed in this manner are not guaranteed. Moreover, there are tremendous legal and tax consequences associated with this type of informal “arrangement.” In short, side arrangements with family members do not work. They simply are no substitute for bona fide non-traditional estate planning.
The Necessity of Legal Assistance
Estate planning for a person in a non-traditional relationship can be quite complex. Informal arrangements won’t work. In addition, it is crucial that the legal documents necessary to create a suitable estate plan properly are prepared. Therefore, if you are in a non-traditional relationship, you must be proactive and retain the services of a skilled estate attorney. An estate lawyer will schedule a no-cost initial consultation with you to discuss your options.