FAQ Estate Planning

What is "Estate Planning"? Estate Planning requires two simple elements First, define your goals. Second, organize your property and estate documents to meet your goals.

How does a person transfer property at death? Property owned at death is transferred either by will through probate administration, trust, or operation of law such as beneficiary designation on a life insurance policy.

May a person dispose of property in any way they wish? The answer is "yes" with two major exceptions. First, you may not disinherit your spouse without your spouse's consent, usually through a marital agreement. Second, surviving spouses and children possess special rights to your homestead and exempt property.

What is a Will? A Will is a written document which directs to whom assets shall be distributed and names the administrator of the estate. A Will alone does not avoid probate administration.

What does "Probate of an Estate" mean? Probate is the court supervised administration of your assets after your death. Your "Probate Estate" comprises all the property you owned at death which does not pass by trust or operation of law.

Why is Probate Administration necessary? Because we are not here to speak for ourselves after death the law safeguards our last wishes. Probate proceedings are conducted under strict court supervision to safeguard beneficiaries and creditors of the estate.

What Fees Costs and Taxes and Time Periods can be expected? Fees and costs can consume three to eight percent of the estate, depending on many factors. Administration of a formal probate estate will take six to nine months, and longer if complicated.

How can I avoid Probate? The only way to avoid probate and the court system is by good planning to transfer your assets outside the Probate system. The safest way to do this is by creating a trust during your lifetime. Not only will you save money, but you will remain secure throughout your life.