Estate planning is going to involve a number of things that are rather self-evident. Clearly, you must facilitate the transfer of your monetary resources to your loved ones. This is typically going to be accomplished through the utilization of a last will or some type of trust.
Executing legally binding documents is certainly part of the equation, but you should also look at the postmortem process from a purely practical standpoint. There is a human element to take into consideration. Yes, you must record your final wishes in writing, but how will these wishes actually come to fruition? It is going to take some legwork as it were.
You have to name someone to administer your estate when you are creating an estate plan. If you are using a last will to direct the distribution of your monetary resources, this individual would be the executor of a will or personal representative.
If you do not name an executor of a will in your last will, the estate would be forced to appoint a personal representative to handle the affairs of the estate. You would probably prefer to make this decision on your own, so you should name an executor when you are drawing up your last will.
The executor of a will is going to be charged with many different responsibilities. For one, the executor would be required to admit the will to probate. This is the legal process of estate administration. During this process, there is a proving of the will. The court is required to contact witnesses that signed the will, unless there is a self proving affidavit. If anyone wanted to contest the validity of the will, this individual could present an argument before the court during the probate process.
During probate, final debts must be paid. For this reason, the executor of a will is required to notify creditors and pay valid debts, including taxes. To accomplish this, the executor will establish a bank account on behalf of the estate.
The property that comprises the estate will be identified and inventoried by the executor of a will. Once this has been accomplished, appraisals and liquidation may be necessary. If everything is in order, the probate court will close the estate. At that point, the executor would be empowered to distribute assets among the inheritors in accordance with the wishes of the decedent.
Letter of Final Instruction
You have to make sure that the executor has all of the information that he or she needs to administer the estate efficiently and effectively.
When you are creating your estate plan, you should include a letter of final instruction. This letter will provide the executor with all relevant information.
For example, these days people conduct a lot of business online. You would want to make sure that your executor has access to your log-in information if you do in fact conduct business on the Internet. There is also the matter of blogs, websites, and social media accounts. You should let your executor know if you have any electronic real estate and provide the appropriate access.
In addition to the electronic side of things, there are various different documents that your executor should be able to access. These would include insurance policies, your will or trust, your bank account and brokerage statements, etc.
Your letter of instruction could also include the names of people that you would like the executor to contact after your passing. There may also be specific professionals that you would like your executor to work with, such as a particular probate lawyer, a funeral director, and/or a tax accountant.
In general, a letter of final instruction is simply a message to the executor that contains the information that he or she will need to handle the business of the estate. If you think things through thoroughly, you can use common sense to construct an effective letter of final instruction.
Learn More About Important Estate Planning Topics
You may be hesitant when you think about scheduling a consultation with an estate planning attorney, because you really don’t know where you would begin. This is understandable, and a lot of people feel this way. As a response, we make an effort to provide educational opportunities to people here in the greater Hartford area.
We offer estate planning and elder law seminars on an ongoing basis, and these sessions are free to attend. There are a number of dates coming up in the near future, and you can visit our seminar schedule page to obtain details and registration information.
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