Death is an unsavory constant in life of which most people are not prepared for. There are many things that family members can do to prepare for the death of a loved one, however, in many cases it will not be enough. The head of the household has a responsibility to complete a few critical tasks before they lay their head in a grave to assure that the rest of the family is taken care of.
A Will is a familiar document to many people within a family unit, even if no close family members have passed. While the general sense of a will is dictating what personal belongings, real estate, or money goes to which family members, there are a few more details people should know about. For example, if a Will does not comply with a state law, the Judge has the power to make changes to it.
Trusts and Wills often get mashed together with a bit of confusion. A Trust, like the Will, can dictate what belongings go to which family members but a Trust can determine how or when those belongings are distributed. A Living Trust is slightly more convenient than a Will and Testament as it can take effect if the family member stated in the Trust is incapacitated instead of dead.
A Probate is the court process of divvying up someone’s belongings if no Will or Trust is found under their name. To start with, probate lawyers will investigate and determine which family members need to be contacted to act as administrator and executor during the probate case. A Probate will not distinguish between estranged family members or close ones, it will simply divide the belongings equally between immediate family members as a judge deems appropriate.
Life is unpredictable and at any moment it can change drastically. It does not hurt to be prepared for the worst and the general process can bring family members closer together as they realize how precious each other’s lives are and how precious the time they have together is. Death is a natural event and it can be emotionally straining, but there are ways to make the transition of an estate to the surviving family easier by utilizing a Will, Trust, or both.