Planning your estate now can prevent a lot of headaches for your heirs after you pass. Remember that your estate is everything you own: your home, personal property, car, land, stocks and bonds, life insurance and any other property in which you have an ownership interest.
The McPherson Sentinel recently published an article, “Estate planning prevents headaches” that says there’s no way to determine your wishes regarding distribution of your property after your death, unless you take action before you pass away. Estate planning is worthwhile, regardless of the size of the estate.
Probate is the legal process by which the court validates the decedent’s will, if there is one, gives authority to the executor, or appoints an administrator if there’s no will. This process assures that taxes get paid, any property is distributed correctly and legally transfers the ownership of the property.
All property is subject to probate proceedings, with or without a will. The only exceptions are the following:
- Property owned in joint tenancy with another;
- Property placed in a trust;
- Property subject to a transfer on death deed;
- Payable on death accounts; or
- Life insurance proceeds designated for a named beneficiary.
Property in any of these categories automatically passes to the joint tenant, designated beneficiary or trust beneficiary. However, these assets may be subject to inheritance and estate taxes.
Typically, a regular probate proceeding can take a minimum of six months from the date the interested parties receive notice to file their claims against the estate. Some states have more streamlined and simplified proceedings that are less time-consuming which can be used in certain situations.
The cost of the probate proceedings depends upon the complexity and value of the estate. In Kansas, fees for the attorney and executor or administrator are also charged to the estate.
There are a number of options available to avoid probate. You can ask an experienced estate planning attorney about transfer on death deeds, pay on death beneficiaries for bank accounts, mutual funds, bonds and CDs and life insurance proceeds.
Reference: McPherson (KS) Sentinel (September 29, 2017) “Estate planning prevents headaches”