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Information you need to have concerning wills and estate planning

Posted By on March 2, 2017

When an individual dies, his processions are to be divided to people according to what is stipulated in his or her will. It is therefore, very important for an individual to have a properly written down document of wills and estate planning, as well as to keep updating it, since he or she is continuing to acquire more wealth. However, when an individual dies without having a proper documentation of his wishes, the state, can execute its power to distribute the property, through laws referred to use the term ‘Intestacy’. People who take up the properties of an individual after his or her demise are called ‘heirs’ or ‘next of kin’ and they do so through the law of intestacy.

The items that can be handed over to heirs in the event of the death of an individual according to wills and estate planning laws include assets, whose process of administration is presided over by the deceased personal representative. Namely, these assets include; money, pieces of land, personal items, and the like. In addition, an individual can acquire assets that are non-probate, and these include; trust assets, proceeds from insurance, and so on. All the above are divided according to what the ‘will’ dictates, as long as it is a valid document. However, if the will is not valid, or it is inconclusive, then intestacy is applied. For a deceased personal property, the governing authority is where he used to live, whereas for the real property, where it is located will determine what happens to it.

When a court is deciding on how to go about the wills and estate planning of a deceased who did not leave behind any ‘will’, it has to consider the people that he or she left behind. The main people to be considered are the spouse and the children. If the deceased had a spouse but did not have any children, then all his or her processions belong to the spouse, if there are children involved, the spouse can take up to 1/3 of even half of everything. If the deceased only had children, then all his or her wealth will go to them. However, there are states that have community property allocations, such that, if the wife and husband own something together, then either of them owns exactly half of whatever it is.

In order to understand the difference between separate, community and quasi-community property, the following broad definitions are important.

What is separate property?

The property that an individual, either the husband or wife, acquired before he or she got into the marriage is referred to as separate property. This also includes the property that either the husband or the wife acquired through inheritance or donation while in the marriage. However, some states will consider the income those results from these separate properties as community property.

What is community property?

When the husband or wife acquires any property while in marriage, then this is referred to as community property. In the event of death or divorce, the man and woman are presumed to have ownership of 50% over the property. In case there is a tussle concerning the property being community, then whoever is contesting this has the burden of proving otherwise.

What is Quasi-community property?

This is the property that one of the spouses acquires, while in marriage, but in a different state from where they are living in. For this type of property, the spouse who acquires the property can dispose it off; however, he or she cannot dispose off more than 50% of the interest acquired. If the owner passes away without leaving behind a ‘will’, then his or her spouse acquires the property.

Therefore, knowledge of wills and estate planning is important to an individual, since it plays an important part when it comes to determining how property is divided when you or close relative passes away.