Of the many benefits that come from executing an estate plan, none is perhaps more rewarding than the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have done everything in your power to make things easy for your family, including minimizing the potential for disputes.
Even if you wouldn't consider yourself a sports fan, there is a very good chance that you are familiar with the legal drama surrounding Donald Sterling, the embattled 80-year-old former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball franchise.
A woman had been with her companion for 51 years when she passed away at age 92. The woman left behind a $200 million estate that oddly did not have any provisions for her long-time partner. Her partner challenged the will and asked to be included and eventually reached a settlement with executors that allowed him to keep the house that they shared along with a substantial trust account.
Probate is the process by which a person's property and assets are sorted out and distributed upon his or her death. Typically, probate follows the pre-determined wishes of the decedent as described in an enforceable will.
At the beginning of the estate planning process, one of the big questions that a person must answer is “who is included in this plan?” Inclusion can mean someone who receives a gift, it can mean an organization that benefits from a gift, or it can mean a trusted friend, family member, or advisor named to act as executor to the will or administer a trust. People making estate plans will often figure out the answer to the question of inclusion as they go along, forming inclusion as they form the overall strategy. However, this is an important question that can be helpful to think about in advance, particularly as families are morphing and changing all the time with births, marriages, divorces, and deaths.