Probate, Wills, Executors: Your Estate Planning Questions Answered

Probate, Wills, Executors: Your Estate Planning Questions Answered

Planning an estate involves many steps. These steps could be very exhausting especially when you have very little idea on how to go about it. It is advisable to seek consult or employ a professional estate planner or a probate attorney to guild you through this process. This post unravels some of the steps involved in planning an estate.

Probate

Probate is a legal process by which the court verifies the authenticity of the will and last testament of the deceased.  Probate proceedings usually take place in a surrogate Court. These proceedings are handles by probate lawyers. A probate lawyer is one who serves in a probate court. They could also represent creditors, heirs, etc.

Terms used in probate

There are several terms used during the process of probate.

Testator:  The testator is the will maker, the deceased person whose estate is to be shared among named beneficiaries.

Estate: The belongings of the testator or deceased are known as estate.

Administrator: In the case whereby the testator did not provide a will, a legal representative is appointed. This representative is known as the administrator.

Executor: This is the person whom the will names as the testator’s representative upon his or her death.  The executor only assumes this office after the passing of the testator.

Wills

What is a will?

A will is a legal document which contains details how your estate should be distributed among your heirs or other beneficiaries at the event of death.  Dying without a will can cause various problems for and among your heirs.  Confusion might arise on how to handle certain things. Issues might arise within family members on whom to get what.

Most people have the mindset that a will is only necessary for the wealthy in the society. This is not true. Both the wealthy, the average etc. all need a will.

Some importance of having a will

  • Having a will gives you the opportunity to decide those to inherit your estate when you are gone. You get to choose who to get what. It helps to keep your estate from does that you don’t wish to have a share in your inheritance.
  • Will makes it easier for your heirs to get access to your estate as everything would have been put in place by you.
  • Will also presents you with the opportunity of donating your estate to charity. This can’t be possible when you do not have a will as family members won’t know of your desire to donate your estate to charity.
  • In your will you can specify whom to look after your children whereas, in the absence of a will, this decision will be made by the court.

Types of Will

There are different types of wills a testator might choose from. His choice might be influenced by various factors such as urgency of the situation. For instance, in a situation where by the testator is trapped and probably going to die, there might not be enough time to prepare a written will. There won’t also be time for all the necessary procedures so; he simply makes an oral will.

  • Testamentary will

This is a type of will which you prepare and sign in front of witnesses. It is a written will and the most familiar will.

  • Holographic will

This is also a type of will written and signed by the testator. But unlike the testamentary will the testator signs without a witness. These types of wills are used in emergency situations when there are no witnesses on ground.

  • Oral will

This is a very poor type of will and it is the least recognized in court. In this type of will, the testator verbalizes his wishes in the presence of witnesses and this does not involve writing or documentation of any form.

  • Mutual will

This type of will exist between married couples who are committed to each other. This will ensures that at the death of a spouse their estate goes to their children.

Executor

Who is an executor?

An executor is the person who is named in the will to take on the responsibility of distributing the testator’s estate among beneficiaries.  An executor can also be appointed by the court.

Roles of an Executor

  • Distributing or sharing properties
  • Paying of bills
  • Settling of taxes
  • Settling of creditors
  • Etc.

An executor can be a family member, a spouse, a friend as the case may be.

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