Talking about making final preparations with your loved ones can be a difficult conversation on both ends. Your family may be apprehensive about the realization of your mortality and you may even have a hard time with the idea. If 2016 is any indication, death comes to us all-eventually-and it is non-discriminate. Sometimes we lose loved ones for unknown reasons, in a tragic accident or far too early. That's why it's important to be prepared.
If you die without a will, your heirs will need to go through the probate process in order to distribute your estate. Additionally, the court can validate wills in the event there is a dispute. Here are a few common issues that are addressed through probate court:
- Payment of state and federal taxes.
- Distribution of any remaining assets from the estate to heirs.
- Hearing arguments regarding a contested will or inheritance dispute brought by creditors or other potential heirs.
- Deciding the legitimacy of outstanding estate claims.
Going through probate court can be a daunting and long process. However, there are a few ways you can help your loved ones avoid probate court all together through careful estate planning.
Estate planning documents
When you take proactive steps, you protect heirs by allowing more assets to pass to them, make sure your final wishes are considered and reduce potential tax consequences. Your estate plan can also assist your heirs by letting them know how to handle your wishes in the event you become incapacitated.
Estate planning documents you should consider are:
- Simple or complex will
- Revocable or irrevocable and special needs trusts
- Living wills
- Health care directives
- Powers of attorney
When you understand what options are available to you and the best procedure to make the transfer of assets as simple as possible, the idea of making your final preparations may not be so anxiety ridden. Speak to a qualified estate planning and probate attorney to get more details and answer your questions.