The Estate Planning Process: Wills, Trusts, and Probate

A complete estate plan usually includes a will, one or more trusts, a durable power of attorney, a health care proxy, and other necessary legal tools.

What Impact does the Probate Process have on Estate Taxes?

None at all! Upon initial glance, it appears there is a connection between probate and estate taxing; they both initiate at a testator’s death and are both based on property ownership. The two processes, however, are distinctly separate. While estate tax liability is initially based (“gross estate”) on all of one’s at-death property, the probate […]

Length of Probate– How to Speed up the Process by Planning Ahead

The probate process can be stressful on all parties involved, especially the personal representative. The process involves many tasks and responsibilities that can extend across several months. That being said, effective estate planning procedures can make the process a bit more manageable for all. The following aspects, to the extent possible, should be communicated long […]

Valid Will – What’s Required?

In drafting a will, an estate planner has discretion to include a wide variety of language to ensure his client’s intentions are accurately documented. The rules of executing a will, on the other hand, mandate a planner and his client satisfy certain requirements to assure a court will later recognize its validity. First, a testator […]


A trust is a significant estate planning tool that can provide tax advantages for testator’s looking to transfer property. Trust function as a holding device for property interests while ownership is divided between a trustee and a beneficiary. Essentially, the testator-appointed trustee holds legal title to the trust property while carrying out his fiduciary responsibility […]

The Probate Process

While estate planning can be a somewhat sophisticated practice, the actual transferring at death occurs according to each asset’s simple classification as either nonprobate or probate property. Nonprobate property passes directly to beneficiaries according to each asset’s terms. Alternatively, probate property passes to devisees either by will or, when a decedent has no will, by […]