Where There Is A Will: Understanding Estate Property Divisions

Law Blog

When a last will and testament is created, the author has plenty of choices to make when deciding who will receive what. Estate property can be divided in any number of ways but most use two ways most commonly. If you are about to make out your will, read below to find out more about choosing beneficiaries and dividing your estate among your loved ones.

Spouses Are Protected

Almost all states don't allow the spouse to be left out of a will, either on purpose or accidentally. Even if there is no will, the lawful, current spouse of the deceased will inherit something. Some states have the spouse splitting up the total estate with all living adult children. Speak to your probate lawyer about the laws applying to spouses in your state.

Let the Survivors Work It Out

This manner of assigning property is the quickest and easiest way to do things. In some cases, people use this way of making out a will intending to later address things in a more detailed manner. When you don't name specific people to inherit specific property, that is known as inheriting per stirpes. This clause puts the division of estate property on the beneficiaries. If one of the beneficiaries proceeds the deceased in death, the children of that beneficiary step into their parent's place and inherit. For example, if a per stirpes clause directs the estate to be divided among all natural-born children of the deceased, the estate is valued and each (adult) child receives a portion. If a child is not living, their portion goes to their children. If they have no children, it goes back to the living siblings.

Naming Names

You can also name items of property to go to certain people (but you cannot have a hybrid of per stirpes and named beneficiaries). Wills like this can be lengthy and complex and they take longer to be probated. A common problem with this type of will is when the property is no longer available. If the property is an item, the beneficiary is out of luck. If the property is cash or other liquid assets, it must be awarded regardless of whether the liquid assets exist. In other words, property must be liquefied to satisfy this beneficiary.

Making a will is an important accomplishment. Take a list of your assets to a probate law attorney and get started on a complete and comprehensive plan today.


27 November 2020

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