The Estate Planning Process

Estate planning practitioners assist clients with the acquisition, maintenance, and disposition of wealth. The process no longer focuses solely on the end game of wealth management, but begins with the end in mind.

Fiduciary Duties

Conservators, trustees, personal representatives, all these roles that are common in estate administration have one striking similarity: their role places them in a position as a fiduciary. I have used this term in various posts, and have even mentioned the fact that they have important duties connected to their roles, but I have yet to […]


In a previous post we discussed how a recipient under a will has the ability to disclaim or renounce their share of an estate’s assets, which is typically done to keep the estate’s assets within the family while simultaneously out of the reach of creditors. So what is required to have a valid disclaimer? There […]

Creditors of the Estate

The primary purpose of probate estate administration discussed thus far has been the distribution of the decedent’s property to devisees provided for in a will or descendants receiving through intestacy laws. However, the protection of creditors of the estate is another primary purpose of probate estate administration. Probate procedure offers creditors an opportunity to file a claim […]

When Do Intestacy Laws Apply?

We have already discussed the most obvious answer to this question. Intestacy laws apply to a decedent’s estate when the decedent dies without a will. Assuming there are assets left by the decedent that would be part of the probate estate, the intestacy laws in the decedent’s state would apply and the assets would be […]

Beneficiary Deed

In previous posts about concurrent rights of ownership and the contents of a probate estate, I discussed different ways of holding property and what benefits exist for tax and probate purposes. I have also previously commented on the benefit of receiving property under a will because of the stepped up basis the recipient has in […]

Why Prepare a Will?

A will is a testator’s final expression regarding the disposition of his or her property. There are many issues that should be addressed in a will, such as: the treatment of the decedent’s body (such as burial or cremation); the treatment of the decedent’s body parts (in cases of donation); the care for family members; […]

The Personal Representative

So who actually sees to the implementation of a will?  With any estate administration, an entity will be named to act as the estate’s representative. When a decedent leaves a will that names the person who is to carry out the terms of the will and administer the probate estate, that person is generally called […]

Beginning With the End in Mind: The Expanding Nature of the Estate Planning Process

Typically people’s first thought when they consider the estate planning process is the development and execution of a will. Makes sense, considering wills have been the primary instrument for estate planners to see to the disposition of a client’s property at death. Today, however, the practice of estate planning has expanded substantially. Practitioners aid clients […]

Uniform Probate Code

Laws pertaining to wills and estate planning (“probate laws”) vary from state to state. Thus it is important when researching principles of estate planning to make sure that what you are learning is in accordance with how your state handles each estate planning issue. However, many states have very similar probate laws because they have […]