When someone passes away, they are known as a decedent in the legal community. A decedent usually leaves behind an estate. Contrary to popular belief, an estate does not always constitute a large mansion, vehicles, fancy furniture, and a lot of money. The truth is that an estate consists of any person’s property, assets, and possessions, regardless of how modest they are. An estate can be as large as many imagine or commonly moderate. Moreover, it is important to recognize that when a person dies, that does not mean that their affairs are automatically settled. A person’s estate affairs can be quite complex. That is a major reason why it is essential to have a proper and secure estate plan.
Before a person dies, they can establish an estate plan that specifies how they would like their assets to be managed and allocated after they have passed. All of the assets that make up an estate plan is known as the decedent’s estate following their death. A decedent’s estate will be guided by the legal documents found in their estate plan. In addition to the assets and property that encompasses a decedent’s estate, a decedent is obligated to file their last tax return and pay any outstanding taxes and debts. Of course, since the decedent is no longer physically present, the trustees and representatives of the estate will take care of those factors on behalf of the decedent.
Most estate plans have a will, trust, and a combination of other documents that are pertinent to particular events or occurrences. With an estate plan present, the attorneys, trustees, and personal representatives can execute the wishes and terms of the decedent’s estate plan. If a person dies without an estate plan, will, or trust, they are known to have died intestate. Intestate decedent estates are often challenging and complicated since there are no directions or specifications on managing the estate left behind. Consequently, the state and court will take control of the decedent’s assets and property. In accordance with the law, they will decide how the assets will be handled and disposed of. It is likely that the assets will not be managed the way a decedent would have wanted. That is why it is wise to at least have a valid will created. A valid will can dictate to whom those assets should be given after all other obligations have been satisfied.
If a will is valid, the probate process will move along more efficiently. It will lessen or mitigate disputes that could arise from family members. However, it is still possible to contest a will or dispute it in the probate process. If a will is not valid or nonexistent, the assets of a decedent’s estate must pass through probate. As such, altercations are bound to develop between family members under these circumstances since there are no legal documents that specify how the estate should be directed.
Planning for assets and property administration should be done alongside an experienced estate planning attorney in Little Rock, AR. An estate planning attorney can advise on the best estate planning tools and help create a strategy that fits your objectives.
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