If you decide to draw up a will to serve as the centerpiece of your estate plan, you should see a holistic picture. Yes, you have to express your wishes regarding the way you want your assets to be distributed, but the administration process will not happen in a vacuum.
The executor that you name will take care of the estate administration tasks, but the document will be admitted to probate. During this legal process, the court will provide supervision, and there is a proving of the will. The court will examine the will to determine if it has been properly prepared.
During probate, anyone that has an interest in the estate can contest the terms that are set forth in the will. Creditors are notified about the passing of the decedent, and they are given six months to present claims, so this process is inherently time-consuming.
A contest will elongate the process even further, and no inheritances are distributed to the heirs to the estate while it is stalled in probate. Plus, there are costs involved, even if there are no complications, and they are magnified if there is a legal struggle.
With all the above in mind, you should do what it takes to make sure that the probate process goes smoothly if you are going to use a will.
Probate Simplification Tips
When you work with an estate planning attorney to draw up your will, you can be sure that it will be executed properly. Your attorney will also be in a position to help guide your family through the probate process if it is necessary.
The executor should be prepared to submit an original copy of the will, and there should be no obvious corrections or deletions that raise eyebrows. Speaking of the executor, you should immediately update your will if the person that you originally choose predeceases you.
Some people want to get back at relatives by disinheriting them or leaving them less than they would expect. This is a very personal decision that is yours to make, but a disgruntled party can make the probate process more difficult if they contest the terms.
There should be no ambiguity in the verbiage when you draw up your will, and your attorney will help you understand how to make yourself crystal-clear. A large amount of outstanding debt will definitely complicate the probate process, so this is another consideration.
Some types of property pass outside of probate. Life insurance proceeds and inherited individual retirement accounts would fit into this category. The beneficiary designations for these non-probate transfers should be consistent with the intention that is exhibited in the will.
Your estate plan should include a letter of last instruction. This letter provides information that the executor will need to administer the estate. You can share contact information for people that should know about your passing, login information for financial accounts managed online, the location of physical property, access codes, keys, location of hardcopy documents, etc.
Attend an Upcoming Seminar
We share information about estate planning on an ongoing basis on this blog, and you can learn a lot if you come back and visit us. In addition to the blog and the other written materials that we have on this site, we provide in-person learning opportunities at our seminars.
They are offered on a complimentary basis, so there is no commitment on your end, and they are held at comfortable, convenient locations. You can see the dates if you visit our seminar page, and we ask that you register in advance if you will be attending so we can reserve your spot.
Need Help Now?
If you found your way to our site because you are ready to work with a Cincinnati estate planning lawyer to put a plan in place, we are here to help. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 513-721-1513.
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