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Estate Planning

estate planning

Estate planning is the process of arranging for an orderly disposition of your assets after death 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.

Do-Nothing Approach

If one dies intestate (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. Even if the decedent had expressed other wishes, these are invalid unless they are contained in a valid estate plan. A probate court case will be opened and will remain open until the entire proceeding is closed. Probates can often take anywhere from 9 to 12 months and the fees are a percentage of the gross value of the estate.

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