Many people automatically equate estate planning with the preparation of a last will. This is of course one of your options, but it is not always the best one. This is why you should discuss the matter with an experienced estate planning attorney before proceeding.
If you do ultimately choose to use a last will as your primary vehicle of asset transfer your estate is going to have to pass through the process of probate. So, it is important to prepare your last will with the realities of probate in mind and there are those who do not understand this, thinking that a will is read after the funeral and that’s the end of it. And the websites that you see out there that talk about how easy it is to plan your own estate using their generic fill-in-the-blanks templates fuel this fire.
Probate can be defined as the legal process of estate administration. This process takes place before the probate court in the jurisdiction that is local to the deceased. During this interim the court will determine the validity of the will and supervise the administration of the estate. The administrative tasks are undertaken in a hands-on manner by the executor. Estate administration is going to include things like satisfying final debts and paying final taxes, inventorying assets, having them appraised, liquidating certain assets, and ultimately distributing these assets to the heirs in accordance with the instructions left behind in the will.
As you can imagine all of the above requires a certain degree of business acumen as well as a good bit of time. So when you are selecting an executor you must keep this in mind. In addition, the document itself should be prepared by someone who is familiar with the probate court. This is another one of the many reasons why it is advisable to retain the services of an estate planning attorney when you are preparing for the future.