What is a self-proving affidavit?

A self-proving affidavit, used in most states, is a document that goes along with a will that allows a probate court to easily accept it as the true will of a person who has died. The affidavit is signed by two witnesses, under penalty of perjury, who observed the will maker (testator) sign the will and heard the will maker say that it was his/her will.

A self-proving affidavit makes it unnecessary for your witnesses to appear in court to …

Types of Trusts

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Each of the various types of trusts available has particular advantages. An estate attorney can advise you about the type of trust that is most appropriate for you and your family situation. The testamentary trust and living trust will be discussed here.

A testamentary trust is a legal instrument contained in the will that sets up the management of assets for one or more beneficiaries following the death of the person creating the trust (grantor). This type of trust is …

Steps in the Probate Process

Steps in the probate process include:

  • Petition for probate of the will or administration of the estate
  • Appointment of a personal representative
  • Notice to creditors
  • Assembly, inventory, and appraisal of property
  • Classification and payment of demands against the estate (such as debts of the decedent and liens against his or her property)
  • Determination of homestead rights and family allowances
  • Management (and sale, if necessary) of property
  • Payment of state and federal taxes
  • Accounting to the court and distribution of property

Property Transfer

A person signing an insurance document

Several tools and planning options are available to ensure that your money, possessions, and real estate are passed on as you would like. All of these legal arrangements have advantages and disadvantages. Use of one or a combination of these tools will be based on your circumstances, your wishes, and the way in which you want to protect your loved ones after death.

Beneficiary Designation: Some assets pass by means other than a will; these include insurance policies, Individual Retirement …

Property Ownership

A house

When you begin estate planning, it is important to understand property and the property rights associated with its ownership. The form of property ownership has an important impact on the degree of control during life, as well as how property will be taxed and distributed after death.

All estates are made up of property. It may be tangible property, intangible property, real property, or a combination of the three.

Tangible personal property is property that can be touched or felt, …

Probate Process

Male judge seated in a courtroom

When someone dies owning property (real property as well as tangible and intangible personal property), the law provides a legal procedure for settling the estate. This procedure, commonly called “probate,” involves:

  • determining what property the person owned and its value
  • determining what debts the person owed
  • distributing or assigning title of the person’s property to its new rightful owners

Federal and state estate taxes are also determined, although these must be paid even if no probate procedure is required.

Not …

Prepare Your Estate Plan: Lesson Objectives

In this lesson you will:

  • Learn what is included in an estate plan
  • Gain a basic understanding of estate-planning tools:
  • Power of Attorney
  • Property Ownership
  • Wills
  • Probate
  • Estate Taxes/Gifts
  • Trusts
  • Receive suggestions for hiring and working with an attorney
  • Increase your knowledge by reviewing several case studies

Have you put off making plans to distribute your property when you die?

There are many financial and emotional reasons for having an estate plan. Just think about the suffering and expense family …

Preparing a Checklist for Meeting with an Attorney

Young African American couple seated at table looking over documents

As you begin your estate plan and before you meet with attorneys and other financial advisers, it is helpful to assemble the following information. Having this information readily available will save you time and money in legal fees. It will also help you think through your wishes for distributing your estate. Use the Record of Important Papers, Household Inventory, and other forms in the Organize Your Important Papers lesson to assist you. Include in your list:

  • Names, addresses, and birthdates

Dying Without a Will

Image of young man holding blond child

Dying without a valid will is called dying “intestate.” If you die without a will, the laws of your state will govern how your assets are distributed. Whether you are single or married, it will be the laws of your state that determine how your property is transferred. You may also pay more in taxes for large estates.

To find an example of Kentucky’s property-distribution laws, go to http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/fcs5/fcs5425/fcs5425.pdf and access the article “Estate Planning: Wills and Probate in Kentucky.” …

Deciding What to Include in Your Estate Plan

Young couple seated at table looking over documents

Once you have selected an attorney, decide what you want your estate plan to achieve before scheduling a second, longer meeting. Determine:

  • Do you want to make sure that your spouse/partner is financially secure?
  • What do you want to happen to the property you have accumulated?
  • Who will care for your minor children or aging parents?
  • Do you want your spouse and children to be provided for in an equitable manner?
  • Who will settle your estate in a timely and