The simple will is inherently a property transmittal device and not an asset management device. The executor is charged with several specific duties: (1) to locate all of the decedent’s property that will be subject to the operation of the will; (2) to reduce this property to his or her possession and control; (3) to take the necessary measures to preserve and protect the estate’s assets; (4) to manage them effectively during the relatively brief period of the estate’s administration; (5) to discharge all estate obligations—debts of the decedent, taxes, and expenses of administration; and (6) to distribute the remaining assets to whoever is entitled to receive them pursuant to the terms of the will. Any asset-management activities undertaken by the executor are purely tangential to his or her duties in winding up the affairs of the decedent. Barring unanticipated disputes and delays, this process may require three to five years, depending on the extent and complexity of the estate assets and the relative sophistication of the testator’s objectives. Administration could take far longer. Not all wills, however, are simple wills designed exclusively to transfer property at death. Occasionally, the will itself may contain a trust, as a variation on the inter vivos trust form. Accordingly, as an alternative to outright distribution to beneficiaries, some or all of the property passing through the will may be subsequently held in trust for the accomplishment of the testator’s objectives. Contact the Thomas Hogan Law office for assistance in preparing a valid will.

Wills as an Estate Planning device

A consideration of the will as an estate-planning device would be incomplete without reference to its statutory counterparts, the intestacy laws. Ownership and use of property are universally subject to certain general rules. A number of these—statutes of descent and distribution—govern the distribution of property interests and control in the absence of a conscious distribution plan. Effectively, they act as an estate- planning device by default when a person fails to leave a valid will, and they confer the individual’s property interests in certain proportions on those individuals specifically preferred by the law. Thus, a person’s choice is not between a deliberate estate plan and no plan. As a practical matter, individuals do not really have such a choice. Rather, the choice is between an active plan and a passive plan—the intestacy statutes. Consult with the Stockton estate planning attorneys of the Thomas Hogan Law Office for knowing your estate planning options.

Trusts

As a legal form, the trust is one of the most highly flexible estate planning arrangements available. Alone, it is capable of immense sophistication. When used with other legal forms, it is capable of accomplishing an almost infinite array of objectives, limited only by a few important principles of law and the imagination of the creators. The complex nature of the inter vivos trust form permits the creation of a variety of property interests in the beneficiaries other than simple outright ownership. The interests thus created may be advantageous from an income-tax-planning perspective as well as from a transfer-tax perspective, while still accomplishing the personal and financial objectives of the individual. Income-producing assets, for example, could be allocated among members of a family group in such a manner as to lessen the overall tax burden among them and, accordingly, to increase the overall expendable income within the family unit. Speak to a Stockton estate planning attorney of the Thomas Hogan Law Office for advice on wills, trusts and probate.

Probate

Probate laws are complex. Many forms have to filled out and submitted to the court. Once a probate petition is filed, the judge will appoint a personal representative. If your will has nominated a person as a personal representative, the judge will generally appoint him or her as the personal representative unless the person is legally incapable of discharging the duties of a personal representative. The personal representative is also known as the executor or the administrator. The probate process begins when the will is filed in court. The heirs must pay a probate fee. You can legally avoid probate by using estate planning techniques. Not all property has to go through probate. The law will determine which of your assets have to go through probate. There are many ways to legally avoid probate. Seek the advice of an experienced probate attorney. Contact Thomas Hogan Law Office in Stockton.

Consult With Us

Life is full of uncertainties that is why it is important to always plan ahead. We are here to help you plan out your will; your trusts and estate to make sure that the future of the ones you leave behind are secure. Speak with an estate planning expert from the Thomas Hogan Law Office; call our Stockton office at (209) 266-0316 and avail of a free 15-minute consultation.


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