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Understanding Estate Settlement for Decedents Wills and Trusts

Decedents refer to individuals that have passed away. The word, decedent, is used in legal documents such as last wills, trusts and probate estate records. Wills and trusts are executed prior to death. Wills are used to express burial preferences and establish heirs and beneficiaries entitled to inheritance property. Decedents can bequeath real estate, business interests, financial assets and personal belongings to whomever they desire. Inheritance property is usually given to the surviving spouse, children, or relatives. Unless a trust has been established, all estates must undergo probate. An estate administrator is designated in the last will. Administrators are responsible for many duties including notifying creditors and government agencies, paying outstanding debts, filing court documents, preparing a final tax return, maintaining real estate, and distributing inheritance property. On average, probate estate settlement extends for six to nine months. When decedents die intestate (without a will) a probate judge must confirm an estate administrator who is responsible for locating rightful heirs. This process can prolong probate for several months. Executing a will does not avoid probate, but can expedite the process as long as heirs do not contest the will. When decedents choose to disinherit heirs they must include a statement of disinheritance within the last will and testament. The statement provides evidence to the probate court the decedent intentionally elected to write heirs out of their will Probate laws require estate executors to take measures to locate missing heirs. It is not uncommon for heirs to disconnect from families due to disputes or personal reasons. Even if direct lineage heirs have not been in contact with decedents for years they may still be entitled to inheritance property unless specifically disinherited in the will. Heirs who are not included in decedents wills have the right to contest the will. Contested wills can potentially bankrupt estates; leaving nothing for intended beneficiaries. Establishing a trust is the only ironclad option to avoid probate. Numerous types of trusts are available. It is best to work with an estate planning lawyer to determine which trust is best suited to protect inheritance property.

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Assets placed inside trusts are no longer considered part of the estate and become exempt from probate. A last will is an integral part of trusts and must be executed when the trust is established. Trusts are managed by a Trustee designated within the Will. Through appropriate estate planning, heirs can be prevented from contesting a Will and decedents can rest in peace knowing inheritance property will be gifted according to their final wishes. Estate planning is available through professional estate planners and probate lawyers.

WA (360) 527-2630 CA (714) 998-6888


Copyright 2006 - 2009 http://www.SimonVolkov.com All rights reserved