One of the most complex tasks left to loved ones and family members after a death is settling the estate of the deceased. This means paying off remaining debts, informing heirs and beneficiaries, and distributing assets as directed in an estate plan. This can be a difficult and complex process due to the strong emotions that follow the death of a loved one, but it can also be particularly difficult if the deceased did not have an estate plan in place.
Recently, Queen Elizabeth II died, as did actress Anne Heche. While the royal had an extensive and precise estate plan in place, the celebrity did not. Passing away without a will or without certain types of estate planning documents can leave loved ones in a difficult position as they try to navigate probate and the process of treating their loved one’s wishes with respect. A complete estate plan provides an entire Tennessee family with peace of mind.
Two very different situations
The estate of Queen Elizabeth II is complex and vast as she owned several residences, valuable jewelry and substantial wealth. However, she left behind a detailed estate plan that outlined exactly what should happen to all of her property, even the care of her beloved dogs. While her situation is exceptional because of her status as a royal, her loved ones will benefit from knowing exactly what she wished to happen and how she wanted to distribute her wealth.
However, the situation involving the estate of Ms. Heche is very different. She left behind no estate plan, and her sons and other potential beneficiaries will have to go through a complex court and probate process. Her adult son will have to petition a court to become administrator of her estate and to secure guardianship of his younger brother. The process of settling her estate could take months or even years to complete. It may be longer if there are disputes between heirs.
Creating an estate plan may seem like a complicated endeavor, but it is worth the effort. Having a plan in place ensures that you have the final say over what happens to your property after you pass. If you are tasked with the responsibility of settling an estate or navigating probate, you will benefit from understanding what to expect based on the details of the individual situation. You may benefit from having experienced guidance at every step of this potentially complex process.