In This Season of Thanksgiving…

The days are getting shorter, the weather cooler, and the skeletal arms of trees reach for the skies as their colorful apparel rests on the ground.  All of these signs point to just one thing… No, not the estate tax repeal (although that does loom close); I’m referring, of course, to the upcoming holiday season—a time to slow down, spend time with family, and appreciate the blessings in our lives.

During this time of celebration and Thanksgiving, our office would like to offer our sincere thanks to you, our clients and readers, for the time you have spent with us, the trust you have put in us, and the role you have let us play in your lives. We hope we may continue to serve you in the coming year.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers, and may you enjoy a wonderful holiday season.

A Word of Thanks to You, Our Readers

Thanksgiving and the winter holidays that follow make for a season of warmth, family, and togetherness. This is when we all try to slow down and make time to be with the people we love most. It’s a time for reminiscing, telling stories, reconnecting, and showing those closest to us just how important they are. After all, although some of the season has been eroded by marketing and consumerism over the years, at its root it is still the season of giving; a time for thinking about others.

Because we think of our clients and readers as part of our firm family, we want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for the time you have spent with us, the trust you have put in us, and the role you have let us play in your lives. It gives us great pleasure to know that we are helping families—young or old, large or small—deal with some of the most difficult and important rites of passage.

And so, during this holiday devoted to recognizing those things for which we are most thankful, we are thankful for you—our readers, our clients, our extended firm family. Thank you for letting us be a part of your lives.

Happy Thanksgiving, and may you enjoy a wonderful holiday season.

probable… probably… PROBATE

“Probate” is a term that is mentioned quite a bit in the estate planning world.  We’re always talking about the process of probate, the cost of probate, how to proceed with probate or how to avoid it.  With all this talk of probate, a definition and description of the process seems in order.

Probate is the process in which the court determines the legal property of a person who has died, and decides to whom those assets will be distributed. It sounds like it should be simple, but even in the best of circumstances there are procedures that must be followed to the letter, and the actual process (depending on the size of the estate and the laws of the state in which the property is being probated) can take anywhere from 6 months to a few years.

You may be asking why probate takes so long, especially if the deceased person has left a will making their wishes clear.  A good will can certainly make the process easier, but even with a will, there are certain steps that must be followed to complete the probate process, including the appointment of an executor or personal representative, verification of the will, taking an inventory of assets belonging to the deceased, giving notice to creditors and paying valid claims against the estate, preparing and paying taxes, notifying beneficiaries, and eventually distributing the assets to the beneficiaries or heirs.  Whew!

If you think that just reading the above paragraph takes your breath away, imagine the confusion of having to actually go through all of those steps—and possibly more!

Not every estate will have to go through probate, but one way to absolutely avoid it is to hold your assets in a revocable living trust.  A living trust is an entity that continues even after the grantor passes away, which means that the “owner” of the assets still exists, and probate is thereby avoided.

If you would like to know more about probate, or protecting your assets with a revocable living trust contact our office today.