Upon receipt of all information (if no heirs contest it) the court will appoint the executor and estate administration begins.
“There is a minimum of seven months that the process has to stay open for. The reason for that is predators have the right to file against your estate within seven months your executor is appointed. If your executor were to release those contents to beneficiaries prior to that seven month time frame and a predator shows up they are personally held liable,” Coutlee said.
Planning for those with disabilities or special needs
In the past, families would disinherit disabled family members and leave assets to someone else who agreed to “take care” of them, according to Coutlee. He said if assets are left to a disabled beneficiary it could disqualify them from the state or federal programs they are receiving. However, in 1992 Congress enacted new laws that entitled disabled individuals to derive the same estate planning benefits as non-disabled individuals without affecting their eligibility for state or federal benefits. The law created Supplemental Needs Trusts, which according to Coutlee, can be created by an individual with his own funds or be created by someone other than a disabled individual — typically a parent or relative. Coutlee said there are different rights and restrictions to each of these trusts, but both ensure immediate qualification for federal and state benefits.
Living trusts come in two forms – revocable and irrevocable
A trust is a contract between the grantor (the person that created it), the trustee (the one who controls it) and the beneficiaries. As a grantor, one determines how the trust will be operated by the trustee and who benefits, how and when.
A person can create a trust that permits himself to be trustee and give himself the right to receive full benefits from it — this is a revocable trust. It is often used as a substitute to a will, according to Coutlee. He said it permits a person to keep total control and access to all their assets during their life and provides for the distribution of assets to beneficiaries after death. The advantage is the avoidance of probate, he added.