If you've changed jobs over the years, it's quite likely that you have several different 401(k) retirement plans still open with past employers or maybe even several different IRA accounts. You may want to consider consolidating these accounts into one individual IRA. Consolidating of accounts allows for better investment choices, lower costs, a larger selection of investments, less paperwork, and easier management.
It should also be noted that there are ways to avoid probate, one of those being to create a living trust. Under Texas law, you can make a living trust to avoid probate for virtually any asset you own. You need to create a trust document (similar to a will) naming someone to take over as trustee after your death. Next – and this is a crucial requirement – you must transfer ownership of your property to yourself as trustee of the trust. Once that’s done, the property will be controlled by the terms of the trust. Upon your death, your successor trustee can transfer it to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings.
Administrator of an Estate is the legal term referring to a person appointed by the Court to administer the estate of a person who died intestate (without leaving a will). This administrator will enjoy privileges similar to those of an executor, including the settling of debts, the payment of taxes and funeral expenses, and the distribution of the remaining assets.
An agreement among heirs and beneficiaries not to contest a will is a way to avoid a costly will contest proceeding. The heirs and beneficiaries negotiate a settlement that may defeat the intention of the testator in how the assets are distributed. A settlement will be valid if all interested parties agree, but it must not exclude anyone entitled to property under the will. Under some statutes the compromise or settlement must be submitted to the probate court for approval.
A will includes the appointment of an executor or executors. One of their duties is to apply to the Probate Division of the High Court for a grant of probate. An executor can apply to a local probate registry for a grant themselves but most people use a probate practitioner such as a solicitor. If an estate is small, some banks and building societies allow the deceased's immediate family to close accounts without a grant, but there usually must be less than about £15,000 in the account for this to be permitted.
The probate court also has jurisdiction to hear lawsuits appertaining to or incident to an estate of a decedent or ward and actions by or against a personal representative of an estate of a decedent or ward. It is common for the court to hear any type of civil litgation, including personal injury, property damage, breach of fiduciary duty and family law. The probate courts are charged with the responsibility of independently maintaining contact with every person under a guardianship each year. This is done through court visitor programs developed and maintained by each court.
As a general rule, a will has no legal effect until it is probated. A will should be probated immediately, and no one has the right to suppress it. The person with possession of a will, usually the personal representative or the decedent's attorney, must produce it. Statutes impose penalties for concealing or destroying a will or for failing to produce it within a specified time.
Under the Wills Act 1959, the youngest age to write a Will is when he/she is 18 years old, whereas for Sabah, it is 21 years old. At the time of signing a Will, the testator as the maker of the Will, must have sound mind which means he/she must be fully aware of the document he/she is signing is a Will, understand the contents of his/her Will and is not intoxicated by drugs or any mental illness affecting his/her mental capacity. At the time of signing, he must not be under duress or undue influence. In addition, when the Will is signed by the testator, there must be at least two witnesses who are at least 18 years old, of sound mind and they are not visually impaired. The role of the witnesses is only to attest that the testator signed his/her Will.
In general, the probate process involves collecting the decedent's assets, liquidating liabilities, paying necessary taxes, and distributing property to heirs. Probate procedures are governed by state law and have been the subject of debate and reform since the 1960s. The Uniform Probate Code (UPC) was first proposed in 1969 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association. The prime focus of the UPC is to simplify the probate process. The UPC, which has been amended numerous times, has been adopted in its entirety by 16 states: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah. The other 36 states have adopted some part of the UPC but still retain distinct procedures.
While you may think that you've covered all your bases, it may be a good idea to consult with a professional on a full investment and insurance plan. And if it's been a while, you may want to revisit your plan. As you get older, your needs may change, such as figuring out if you need long-term care insurance and protecting your estate from a large tax bill or lengthy court processes. Professionals will also be up on changes in legislation and income or estate tax laws, which could impact your bequests.