Morgan Legal Group PC has years of experience in estate planning and probate. Whether you are in the early stages of drafting an estate plan or wish to update your existing plan, our team of professionals can provide the legal assistance you need to get your affairs in order. Get in touch with Morgan Legal Group PC for a free consultation that can set you on the road for a secure future.
In simple terms, estate planning is the process of making legal arrangements for the distribution of a person’s assets in the event of their death. Assets are what make up an estate and may consist of financial accounts, pensions, real estate property, personal belongings, and even debt. The purpose of estate planning is to organize these different assets and determine how they will be distributed and to whom. In addition, an estate plan allows for arrangements to be made for long-term care, guardianship, as well as the management of a person’s estate should they become incapacitated.
An estate plan is not the same thing as a last will and testament though the two are interrelated. Both an estate plan and a will lay out how a person’s property should be managed upon their death. However, a will is only one of many documents that can be included within an estate plan. A comprehensive estate plan can also include a living will, power of attorney, trusts, and beneficiary designations, among other important documents. It should be noted that while a will is a useful tool in protecting your assets, a thorough estate plan can provide more in-depth instructions and more security.
When a person dies without leaving behind a last will and testament, it means they have died “intestate.” Each state has its own intestacy laws. As such, the laws of the state where the decedent last permanently resided will determine how their assets and properties are to be distributed. Generally speaking, the spouse and children are entitled to the estate left behind by the decedent. In cases where the decedent had a spouse but no children, the estate in its entirety is bequeathed to the spouse. As intestacy laws differ from state to state, there are various ways in which an estate may be distributed in the absence of both a spouse and children.
Probate is the process by which a court authenticates a decedent’s last will and testament and oversees the distribution of their assets and properties. Although probate laws may vary across different states, its purpose is generally the same. Probate works to ensure that a will is valid and that it was properly drafted. Once the will has been authenticated, an executor is appointed to manage the decedent’s estate. This can include locating assets, paying outstanding debts, filing tax returns, and distributing the remaining estate to the rightful beneficiaries.
A trust is a tool used in estate planning that comes with a number of benefits. Essentially the way a trust works is that a person transfers certain assets or properties to a third party. These assets are held and managed on behalf of a beneficiary designated by the person who set up the trust. The assets are eventually transferred to the beneficiary in accordance with the terms of the trust. Establishing a trust is an integral part of any estate plan as it provides legal protection for assets and properties and ensures that these are conferred upon the intended beneficiary.
Because every individual estate plan looks different, estate planning does not come with a fixed price. There are a number of factors that can impact estate planning costs. Some of these may include your goals for the future, your current financial standing, as well as your attorney’s level of experience with estate planning. Morgan Legal Group PC offers a free initial consultation in order to evaluate our clients’ objectives and consider their estate planning costs.