Understanding Estate Planning

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Estate Planning with Homestead Statutes in Mind

You definitely want your home to be protected after you die. Some states have homestead allowance statutes to make sure that your spouse and any minor children have a place to live after you die. Your [more…]

Are You Spending Too Much for Investment Management?

Many people believe they must spend a lot of money to receive quality investment management services. That may have been true once, but it isn’t true any longer. Professional investment management services [more…]

Estate Planning First Steps: How Much Is Your Estate Worth?

Estate planning is all about what you want to have happen to you, your dependents, and your stuff when you’re gone. Estate planning also covers what happens if you’re alive but can’t make decisions for [more…]

Understanding Estate Planning Designations

Estate planning provides for the efficient and effective transfer of assets at your death. You may have heard of terms like joint tenants and beneficiary designations [more…]

Going Beyond a Will: Other Estate-Planning Documents You Need

Even with all your assets properly titled, your beneficiary designations in order, and a will or revocable living trust in place, you still have a few very important issues to take care of and documents [more…]

How to Select a Personal Financial Advisor

Savvy consumers interview a few different financial advisors to learn more about each one’s background, experience, specialties, and target clientele, as well as his or her listening skills and communication [more…]

Does the Estate Need a Special Administrator?

A special administrator is a temporary fiduciary appointed by the probate court in many states to marshal and preserve the assets when a delay is foreseen in appointing a permanent fiduciary. This may [more…]

Does an Estate Need Ancillary Administration?

An estate requires ancillary administration if it has real estate subject to probate located in a state other than the decedent’s state of domicile. As executor of such an estate, you must have ancillary [more…]

Does an Estate Need a Guardian?

In some cases the probate court appoints a guardian for an estate’s heir to take care of the heir’s affairs and manage his or her assets. A common case is one where the decedent has died and the heir is [more…]

How to Decide between Voluntary Administration and Formal Probate

After you determine that an estate includes probate assets, you must decide whether you need the formal probate process to administer the estate or if voluntary administration is available to you. Voluntary [more…]

How to Petition for Probate of a Will

To start the probate process, you will need to petition for probate of the will. These guidelines can vary state by state. However, generally, the first step is to file the decedent’s will in the probate [more…]

Who Can Petition for Estate Administration when No Will Exists?

If the estate’s decedent dies intestate, without a valid will, you may need to file a petition to serve as administrator. Check the law in the state of the decedent’s estate to determine what type of estate [more…]

How to Collect a Decedent's Employee Benefits

The estate’s executor is responsible for collecting any employee benefits, or death benefits for which the decedent may be eligible. These may include retirement accounts, continued COBRA health benefits [more…]

How to Determine All Death Benefits for a Decedent

The executor of an estate should note any death benefits, other than employment and insurance benefits, found in the decedent’s records and contact the appropriate authorities. Ask the Social Security [more…]

How to Distribute a Decedent’s Assets

As the estate’s administrator, you’re responsible for distributing the decedent’s property if he or she bequeaths specific assets to beneficiaries. Before you distribute the assets, you should review the [more…]

How to Distribute a Decedent’s Personal and Household Property

Distributing a decedent’s personal and household property is frequently a challenging part of estate administration. Whether the estate is large or small, heirs are often passionate about the personal [more…]

How to Distribute the Residue of a Decedent’s Estate

As the estate executor, you must distribute the estate’s residue, or the leftover assets, after you have paid all debts, administration expenses, and bequests and devises from the decedent’s estate. [more…]

Who Administers Estates When Someone Dies or Needs Representation?

Estate administration includes several kinds of fiduciaries, people who administer the assets or property of another person. The type of fiduciary often depends upon the deceased's will and heirs. If an [more…]

What's a Probate Estate All About?

A probate estate is all the assets a person owns at his or her death that are subject to probate administration. Probate administration is the process of proving to a probate court that the will is genuine [more…]

Who Can Inherit from an Estate?


Determining who inherits the assets of a decedent’s estate is usually simple if the estate has a valid will, because the will sets out who the assets go to. However, wills can be fuzzy if they're not [more…]

Does the Estate Need a Temporary Executor?

You may need to apply for temporary executorshipif the estate plan documents show that the decedent’s estate has assets subject to probate that need immediate action. Temporary executorship can be achieved [more…]

How to Organize the Estate Administration Process

Estate administration is a detailed process with a lot of paperwork and rigid deadlines. The executor of an estate should keep organized and thorough estate records from the decedent’s death onward. Creating [more…]

What Are a Trust's Principal and Income?

A trust has two components, the principal and the income. The principal is all the property that’s available to produce ordinary income like dividends, interest, or rents. As you make payments, some may [more…]

How to Use Investment Advisors Wisely for a Trust

Investment advisors can make your life as trustee easier. They spend all their professional time researching companies and reading balance sheets and annual reports. Their job is to be on top of whatever [more…]

How to Obtain Probate Court Approval of an Estate’s Accounts

Before you can close a decedent’s estate, you need to have your accounts allowed (approved) by the probate court. Check with your local probate court for the exact procedure for allowance of accounts. [more…]

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