Updated: Jul 2
Effective estate management enables you to manage your affairs during your lifetime and control the distribution of your wealth after death. An effective estate strategy can spell out your healthcare wishes and ensure that they're carried out – even if you are unable to communicate. It can even designate someone to manage your financial affairs should you be unable to do so.
What happens if you pass away without a Will or Trust? Or any Estate Plans at all? This is known as intestate. Learn the ins and outs of intestate here.
We’re all familiar with the concept of a Last Will and Testament, the document that determines what happens to our estate after we pass away. But what many of us haven’t really stopped to think about is: what happens if we don’t go through the steps to properly plan?
Generally speaking, a will is a legal document that coordinates the distribution of your assets after death and can appoint guardians for minor children.
What Does “Intestate” Mean?
If you’ve never heard the term before, intestate simply means you pass away without having prepared a Will. When this happens, there’s no legal document to determine how your estate and assets should be divided. The decision to control and divvy up your estate and assets then rests on legal procedures rather than your wishes.
Keep in mind that even if you have a Will, it will still go through what’s known as probate, but with your Will guiding the process, things tend to be much cleaner, simpler and faster.
A probate court has the jurisdiction and competence to deal with the administration of estates. Probate courts handle the “probate” of wills, guardianship, conservatorship and estate administration. And, in cases of intestate deaths, they oversee the handling of those estates, too.
Legally, a person's estate refers to an individual's total assets, minus any liabilities.
Estates are most relevant upon the death of an individual. Estate planning is the act of managing the division and inheritance of your personal estate, and arguably represents the most important financial planning of an individual's life. Generally, an individual draws up a will which explains the testator's intentions for the distribution of their estate upon their death. A person who receives assets through inheritance is called a beneficiary.
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