In Need of Counsel to Administer the Estate of a Deceased Family Member
Good estate planning will provide for an efficient means of transferring control and ownership of property in the event of your disability or death.
Non-Probate Transfers Many assets will automatically pass to another individual on the death of the owner. For example, real estate or bank accounts that are "jointly owned" by two or more persons will automatically pass to the survivor. Life Insurance proceeds are automatically paid to the beneficiary named on the policy. Many bank accounts or investment accounts are set up as TOD (transfer on death) or POD (pay on death) accounts. These are very quick and efficient transfers, but they are not controlled by a will or trust and these assets will not be available to assist with paying final bills.
Probate Administration Probate is simply a proceeding that results in a court order appointing an agent (the personal representative) to take charge of an estate and a means to account to the heirs. Assets titled solely in the name of an individual at the time of that person's death must be submitted to the probate court for distribution. If your estate is controlled by a Will, the Will must be probated. Probates can be expensive and time consuming, but usually are not as bad as most people think. Probate of a typical estate in Itasca County will take about eight to twelve months and cost $2,000 to $3000.
Trust Administration If your estate is controlled by a trust, a probate proceeding is typically not required. This result is created by the simple fact that with a properly funded trust, you have no assets titled in your name. Everything is owned by a separate entity (your trust) that is totally controlled by you. You serve as your own trustee for as long as you are able. Upon your disability or death, a successor named by you will take control of your affairs and make distributions according to your terms. Administration of a typical trust estate in Itasca County will take about two months (more if estate taxes are required) and cost less than $1,000. As attractive as these documents are in estate planning, they can be quite expensive to create ($2,000 or more), so they are not for everyone.