Hello, and here's a great article on the importance of estate planning, at all ages. If you are young, say 30 or 40, and have assets and/or children, it's time to sleep better at night by having your affairs in order. Wills, insurance, power of attorney, guardianships, etc, are covered in this article. I would add one more to this; a "when I die" folder which contains all of your passwords and miscellaneous information. It's important. A friend had to go to her beloved's interim resting place, the morgue, to attempt to get a thumbprint to gain access to an Iphone, something I never even considered until hearing this story. Of course, personally we didn't have this issue as my dad still carried his flip phone. Hopefully, it's buried with him.
In our profession, we often run into real estate that needs to go through probate to be sold. Probate is a judicial process whereby a will is accepted by the court as a true last testament of the deceased. The purpose is to resolve all claims against the estate and of "granting" probate, whereas the estate can then be distributed by the legal beneficiaries.
If a person owns a house and dies without a will, or intestate, there is a familial progression the courts will follow in determining the heirs. It can get complicated!
One of my favorite client's had a house left to her by a parent who died with a will, which went through probate and was specified that the biological kids would get the house. However, when we sold the house, the title company discovered that the deceased's spouse, who had no will and surprised everyone by dying last, legally had a claim to the house, too. When he died, his biological kids were due his portion. It was a surprise to all, and this gracious family handled it all beautifully and were able to resolve.
The moral of that story is to get good, legal expertise up front. It gets complicated and there are plenty out there to give you bad advice. The family mentioned never knew where their parent received the bad estate planning advice, but the effect was the opposite of what the deceased had intended. So, get your affairs in order and then get back out there to enjoy your life!
If you need someone to help you, I know a smart and cute attorney who can help or can direct you to someone who can; David.Noblit@Leitnerfirm.com.