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Estate Settlement Made Easy | Sheryl Johnson

No two estates  are the same – every estate settlement is different because every person is different. Below is a simple list of possibilities to help guide you through your own estate planning process:

Estates Under $250,000 up to $500,000 (depends on type of assets)
You do not have to probate if assets are named properly.

1. Any asset with a title or deed – investments, homes, vehicles of any kind – can pass directly to another individual when titled correctly. The beneficiaries’ name must be included on the title/deed with your name. Keep these documents in your lock box if you aren’t ready to share with them that they also hold title to your property. Upon death, make sure everyone is aware of your lock box and the documents will be found at the appropriate time.

2. Use POD (payable on death) for items like CD’s, checking or savings accounts.

3. Use beneficiary forms for retirement or brokerage/bank accounts – be sure to review periodically if family changes occur.

4. Use JTWROS (Joint Tenancy With Right Of Survivorship).

Estates Over $500,000
The higher the asset value, the more work there is to do. Legal proceedings, document review, distributions of assets and inventory of properties, securities and other various accounts.

• If you are named Executor/Executrix in a will or as Trustee of a trust, consider using Delta Trust as a co-trustee or successor trustee. We can work with you and the attorney to guide you through the many items required with probating a will or settling an estate.

• Probate is a public forum whereas trusts provide privacy.

Helpful Tips

• It is important to periodically review any beneficiary designation forms you have in place on your IRA or retirement plan, especially if you have a life changing event such as a marriage or divorce. A signed beneficiary form supersedes court documents AND state law as it is governed by ERISA.

• The funeral home will order the death certificates for you. You must have a death certificate before you can go to your attorney to request to file for the Letters of Testamentary to begin probate.

• It’s best to have a will, durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney and trust so there are no questions later as to what your wishes were.

• Put together an information book for your chosen Executor/Executrix and update the information at least annually. The book should included computer passwords, online banking passwords, email passwords, copies of brokerage and bank statements, appraisals, legal documents, etc. The need for this type book is becoming much more important in today’s age of technology. Years ago people could go to your house and collect all the bills and statements, but now most people receive bill and statements via email and these documents are harder to recover.

Sheryl Johnson
Trust Officer
sjohnson@delta-trust.com

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