While nobody wants to think about death or disability, establishing an estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Proper estate planning not only puts you in charge of your finances, but it can also spare your loved ones of the expense, delay, and frustration associated with managing your affairs when you pass away or become disabled.
Probate and Estate Administration
When a loved one passes away, his or her estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed. If your loved-one owned his or her assets through a well drafted and properly funded living trust, it is likely that no court-managed administration is necessary, though the successor trustee needs to administer the distribution of the deceased’s assets. The length of time needed to complete the probate of an estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate and the local rules and schedule of the probate court.
Estate and Trust Litigation
A properly drafted will should clearly identify all beneficiaries and leave no ambiguity surrounding the intentions of the Testator. Unfortunately, estate planning documents, whether wills or trusts, do not always clearly reflect the intentions of the testator. Even if the language of the documents is clear, parties may have other reasons to initiate a lawsuit or object to a will.