Estate planning is the process of arranging for an orderly disposition of your assets after death so as to avoid legal and financial complications, excessive fees and expenses, and in some cases, avoid or minimize estate taxes. If you are reading this web site and you have not done an estate plan, you are in good company as 70% of Americans have no estate plan in place.
Essentially there are three basic options when doing your estate planning—a will, a living trust, or intestate succession—the latter of which is essentially the “do nothing” approach.
If one dies intestate (or without a will), the decedent’s property will normally be subject to probate, and the property will pass to those heirs as determined by the laws of the state in which the decedent resided, regardless of the decedent’s wishes. A court case will be opened and will remain open until the probate is closed.
Probates can often take anywhere from 9 to 12 months and the fees are a percent of the gross value of the estate.