Estate | Probate
Estate | Probate
While there is no requirement to use a lawyer, probate is a rather formal procedure. One minor omission, one failure to send Great Aunt Tillie a copy of the application, or a missed deadline, can cause everything to come to a grinding halt or expose everyone to liability
The death of a family member or friend sometimes tends to bring out the very worst in some people. Experience shows that even in close families there is a tendency to get overly emotional about relatively trivial matters at the time of loved one’s death, such as who gets the iron frying pan and who gets the kettle. Such minor matters, or any delays or inconveniences can be upsetting, pose issues of fairness, and create unfounded suspicion among family members. Thus, it generally is very good idea to “let a lawyer do it”
Wills, probates, administration with no will, social security or pension plan benefits, veterans’ benefits, insurance benefits, joint property, beneficiary designations, claims of dependents and creditors, probate fees, income and estate taxes, and other issues may appear overwhelming after the death of a loved one. Sorting and settling all the details may be confusing because many of the terms are unfamiliar. This guide is not intended to be a substitute for specific individual tax, legal or estate settlement advice, as certain aspects of the described considerations will not be the same for every estate. Accordingly, where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, consultation with a competent professional is strongly recommended. Most of all, keep in mind that while it is important to take care of all these activities, it’s more important to move slowly at a pace that is comfortable for you during your grieving process.
Locate as many of the following documents as possible: wills, deed, bank books, stock certification, military discharge papers, social insurance card, tax forms, vehicle and boat titles, insurance policies, etc.
Before the business and legal issues of the estate can be pursued, it will be necessary to obtain certified copies of the death certificate. You can order them from the funeral director or directly from the Southern Nevada Health District’s Registrar of Vital Statistics. It is always better to order a few more than what you think you will need. Most agencies will only accept certified death certificates and not photocopies.
Administration of a Will
Wills are simple, inexpensive ways to address many estates. But they don’t do it all. Here are some things that may not be accomplished in a will:
Named beneficiaries for certain kinds of property, although sometimes will contain beneficiary designations that overrides previous ones
A Will cannot be used to leave:
- Property you held in joint tenancy with someone else. At death, the deceased’s share will automatically belong to the surviving joint tenant(s). A will provision leaving the deceased’s share to someone other than the surviving joint tenant, would have no effect unless all joint tenants die simultaneously
- Property that was transferred to living trust
- Proceeds of a life insurance policy for which there is a named beneficiary.
- Money in a pension plan, Individual Retirement Account (IRA), 401 (k) plan, or other retirement plan.