Probate Estates

Written by Jared Vincenti
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When someone dies, the entirety of their possessions at the time of their death is referred to as their estate. This includes real estate, houses, savings, investments, and personal belongings. This estate is then passed on to the heirs of the deceased, and the process by which it is divided is called probate.

Dividing an Estate

Probate follows a set of state laws to decide how to most evenly distribute an estate to the heirs, unless the deceased leaves a will. A will is a legal document that specifies how the deceased wishes to have his estate divided. With a will, you can include people who are not blood relatives, or leave out people who would be granted property were the state to supervise probate. In addition, you can specify how things are to be divided, to save your heirs the trouble of fighting over specific items in your estate.

Many people are reluctant to write a will because they fear it will cost too much. A good will costs upward of 200 dollars, since it must be written with the aid of a lawyer. However, you save no money in the long run by not having a will--since court costs, legal fees, and other expenses related to settling your estate will cost far more than a will.

In addition, by having a will, you can name your lawyer as the executor of the estate. This means that you can leave specific instructions for him to obey in the administration of your paperwork and possessions. If you do not name a lawyer to your estate, the state probate court will appoint one for you. In the end, there is no reason not to have a will, as it protects you and your heirs from procedures that may be contrary to your wishes.

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