A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that lists all your property and how you wish for it to be distributed after you are gone. We have written about wills plenty of times, and it should go without saying that having one is extremely important. The problem is that many people do not like thinking about their death and neglect to draft a will. When this happens, you die intestate, and your family will likely have to deal with a costly and complex probate process.
You have likely heard of the terms intestate and probate before and may not realize there is a big difference between the two terms. This blog aims to define both terms and make the legal world a little bit easier.
Intestate vs. Probate
When we use the term intestate, we refer to a person who has passed away without a will. And because there is no documentation from the deceased to tell the judge how to proceed — including a list of beneficiaries, surviving heirs, and personal or financial assets — they lose control over who gets what from their estate. As a result, the court has no choice but to defer to state law to decide how everything will be distributed.
The assets for a person who dies intestate will still go through probate, but this term means something completely different. Probate is the actual court-supervised procedure that determines how a deceased person’s assets, taxes, and debts owed will be organized and remaining assets distributed.
So regardless of whether you have a will or you died intestate, your estate and assets still go through the probate process. Having a will does not let your family skip this process, though the subsequent steps are infinitely easier for your family if there is a will. More importantly, your wishes will be carried out the way you have intended.
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There is so much more to this conversation, and we are more than happy to discuss it in more detail — especially as it relates to your specific situation. The bottom line is that estate planning is a conversation you should not neglect. And when it comes to protecting your family’s future for years down the road, it is imperative to have an estate planning attorney in your corner at all times.
The Nelson Law Group brings nearly two decades of experience to every case. Give our knowledgeable staff here at Nelson Law Group, PC, a call if you have any further questions regarding this or any other issue. Our staff is always available. Give us a call today! For more information about Brett A. Nelson, click here.