Last Will

Preparing a last Will is necessary with every kind of estate planning. Regardless of if estates pass through probate or are protected by a trust, a Will is needed to provide directives. It is used to appoint a personal representative and name the individuals entitled to personal possessions.

The last Will is very helpful to personal representatives. It supplies information about estate planning strategies taken prior to death and identifies the property each heir and beneficiary should receive.

There are various kinds of Wills. The kind a person needs depends on their lifestyle and the type of assets owned. As an example, people with young children have different requirements than those who have grown children or none at all.

Business owners will want to establish business succession strategies to ensure their company is passed along to the right people. Individuals who own real estate investments would want to safeguard their property with joint titles.

When people do not take time to prepare a Will their estate has to undergo a process known as intestate probate. A court hearing takes place so a judge can appoint a person to act as the estate administrator. This person is responsible for settling the estate in accordance with probate law and distributing assets to rightful heirs.

The probate process is also necessary when people do prepare a will and testament. This is known as testate probate and is needed to reconcile estates and legally record transfer of property. Both types of probate are time-consuming processes that can be avoided by hiring an estate attorney.

Most people prepare Wills to easily transfer assets at death. However, there are other methods that can be used to pass along property and avoid the probate process altogether. These include setting up a living trust, revocable trust, family trust, or transferring assets using some type of Will substitute.

Common types of Will substitutes include: joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, and arranging transfer on death (TOD), or payable on death (POD) beneficiaries to certain types of financial accounts and life insurance policies.

Rights of survivorship can be established to transfer ownership of titled property to another person without having to endure probate. Survivorship rights are recognized by different names, depending on the jurisdiction where rights are established, as well as the relationship between co-owners.

For instance, if a married couple owns real estate and reside in Pennsylvania they would establish rights known as "Tenancy by the Entireties". In California, real estate can be titled as "Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship".

Both allow owners to assume full ownership when one partner passes away. The designated joint tenant automatically inherits the decedent's portion of property irrespective of directives provided in the last Will.

The benefit of establishing joint tenancy titles is survivors can take possession of property quickly, with minimal expense and being able to avoid probate. However, this method isn't effective if individuals want to bequeath property to more than one family member.

Trusts are an excellent choice for passing along inheritance and bypassing probate. Due to the fact there are so many types of trusts it is best to work with an estate attorney, such as Craton and Switzer.

We encourage you to visit our blog to learn more about preparing a last Will, trusts, and other available estate planning strategies. If you are in need of an estate attorney in Long Beach, California please contact us during normal business hours to discuss your needs.

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Published on May 16, 2012

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