FAQ -

Wills

What does a will do?

Nearly everyone will die sooner or later. By doing so, the person becomes a "Decedent." A Decedent's property goes into an imaginary hat called the "Estate." The person who holds the hat is called the "Personal Representative", "Executor" or "Administrator." For the present, let's refer to the hat holder as the PR.

Property may avoid going into the Estate if it is owned jointly with a survivor, or if it is assigned to someone in a deed, account heading or document of title. For example, if the home is owned jointly, it does not go into the probate estate of the first joint tenant to die. If a bank or brokerage account is designated "Pay On Death" or "In Trust For", the account is not part of the probate estate. It usually goes automatically to the person designated as the beneficiary. Assets in trust may also avoid becoming part of the Probate Estate. Joint tenancies, trusts and other forms of ownership that avoid probate are called "will substitutes."

When the probate estate is opened, creditors of the Decedent file claims and get paid before the estate is distributed to the beneficiaries. When the creditors have been paid, the Will (you probably thought I forgot your question) tells the PR how to distribute the Estate.



Do I need a will?

A will is an important estate planning document for everyone. Even if every thing you own will avoid probate through a will substitute, there is always the possibility that you will acquire something and die before it is put in trust or made joint. Your manner of death may give rise to a lawsuit. These circumstances may force at least a part of your estate into probate. If your plan is different from the state's estate-planning scheme, you need a will to ensure that these probate assets do not benefit the wrong heirs.



How important is a will?

Every state has a ready-made estate plan for its residents. This plan is called Intestate Succession or Descent and Distribution. If your plan is the same as the state's plan a will may be an empty formality. On the other hand, if you want to disinherit a family member, or provide specially for a disabled child, a will is an absolute necessity. The will may also be important because it names your PR and your children's guardian.

Directions for your final arrangements -- disposition of remains, laying out, funeral, wake, and so forth -- may be included in the will. It is helpful to put these things in the will because your family will look there, but the will has no legal effect until a petition is filed in probate court. Court proceedings normally are not initiated for several weeks or months after death. It is much better to make and fund final arrangements ahead of time. As tacky as funeral home advertising is, the ads are correct in the premise that pre-planning is a good idea.




What does a will do?

Nearly everyone will die sooner or later. By doing so, the person becomes a "Decedent." A Decedent's property goes into an imaginary hat called the "Estate." The person who holds the hat is called the "Personal Representative", "Executor" or "Administrator." For the present, let's refer to the hat holder as the PR.

Property may avoid going into the Estate if it is owned jointly with a survivor, or if it is assigned to someone in a deed, account heading or document of title. For example, if the home is owned jointly, it does not go into the probate estate of the first joint tenant to die. If a bank or brokerage account is designated "Pay On Death" or "In Trust For", the account is not part of the probate estate. It usually goes automatically to the person designated as the beneficiary. Assets in trust may also avoid becoming part of the Probate Estate. Joint tenancies, trusts and other forms of ownership that avoid probate are called "will substitutes."

When the probate estate is opened, creditors of the Decedent file claims and get paid before the estate is distributed to the beneficiaries. When the creditors have been paid, the Will (you probably thought I forgot your question) tells the PR how to distribute the Estate.



Do I need a will?

A will is an important estate planning document for everyone. Even if every thing you own will avoid probate through a will substitute, there is always the possibility that you will acquire something and die before it is put in trust or made joint. Your manner of death may give rise to a lawsuit. These circumstances may force at least a part of your estate into probate. If your plan is different from the state's estate-planning scheme, you need a will to ensure that these probate assets do not benefit the wrong heirs.



How important is a will?

Every state has a ready-made estate plan for its residents. This plan is called Intestate Succession or Descent and Distribution. If your plan is the same as the state's plan a will may be an empty formality. On the other hand, if you want to disinherit a family member, or provide specially for a disabled child, a will is an absolute necessity. The will may also be important because it names your PR and your children's guardian.

Directions for your final arrangements -- disposition of remains, laying out, funeral, wake, and so forth -- may be included in the will. It is helpful to put these things in the will because your family will look there, but the will has no legal effect until a petition is filed in probate court. Court proceedings normally are not initiated for several weeks or months after death. It is much better to make and fund final arrangements ahead of time. As tacky as funeral home advertising is, the ads are correct in the premise that pre-planning is a good idea.




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Dearborn, MI 48214
tel: 313-563-4900
fax: 313-583-3100
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Pittsburgh, PA 15237
tel:412-364-8600
fax:412-364-2000

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