Estate planning is the process by which an individual makes a plan for the distribution of his or her property at death. It is the advanced planning and drafting of documents to ensure the individual’s wishes are carried out after his or her death. Probate, on the other hand, is the process of distributing property after an individual is deceased.
Simmons & Greene, P.C. proudly serves clients across the greater Phoenix, Arizona area.
Making the decision to carry out an estate plan can ensure your wishes are carried out upon your death and can also help with your loved ones through the probate process. There are several tools that an individual can use to help carry out his or her estate planning needs, including:
It is the execution of the will or, if a will does not exist, the distribution of property according to law. A proper estate plan can help make the probate process faster and less stressful, or help avoid probate altogether.
Wills – a will can specify who will get an individual’s property once that individual passes away. Although a will may be less complicated than other estate planning tools, it is still a good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure the will is properly drafted and that it meets specific criteria in order for it to be upheld in probate.
Trusts – a trust may be more complicated and more costly to set up initially but has several advantages. There are different types of trusts including revocable and irrevocable trusts. Setting up a trust and managing the trust can be complicated and you should always consult with an attorney to ensure the trust is properly set up as well as to review any potential tax consequences.
Another tool that can be useful for some individuals is known as an inter vivos gift. Inter Vivos gifts are gifts given to loved ones while alive and can help avoid the probate process as well. Speak with an attorney about taxes that may apply to inter vivos gifts.
After an individual passes away the probate process is initiated by the personal representative, an individual either named in the will or appointed by the court in the absence of a will. The personal representative will then bear the responsibility of dividing up the assets of the estate, paying creditors, and handling tax issues.
The probate process can range from relatively straightforward to quite complex depending upon the estate. There may be tax issues, creditor problems, or family-related disputes that arise over the course of probate and a probate and estates planning attorney can help loved ones navigate the process.
Whether you are planning for the future and would like a well-thought-out estate plan, or if a loved one has passed and you need assistance through the probate process, the attorneys at the law firm of Simmons & Greene P.C. can provide experienced legal advice to help ensure you or your loved one’s wishes are ultimately carried out. Contact Simmons & Greene, P.C. in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area to schedule a free consultation.