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Estate administration & probate can be traumatic for heirs

The loss of Prince is still being portrayed by reporters in Georgia and nationwide as a stark example of how a private person's estate can be turned into a circus of chaos, open to public view by one and all. However, it didn't have to be that way. The options available to Prince were varied and capable of making his post-death period as private and respectful as he would have wanted. Instead, the challenges to the estate administration & probate procedure became at least a partial distraction to the man's life of incredible artistic accomplishments.  

The options available to him are easily open to all of us. However, it is true that if one does not start one cannot finish. For Prince, preparing an estate plan was never at the forefront of his thinking. He has unintentionally helped others, however, by leading them to get their own affairs appropriately in order.  

The first basic choice that we all have is the option of making a last will and testament. That document sets forth the testator's wishes for the distribution of his or her assets. Charities can be identified where there is enough funding to achieve charitable goals.

The friends and relatives closest to the testator can be identified and selected for distributions. Where there are children in the testator's life, they can be protected in the will by testamentary trusts. They can be protected during the person's life by inter vivos or living trusts. Along with the will and trusts, there are the powers of attorney and health care directives that are popular for most people making an estate plan.

In fact, there are many instruments that the law offers for those wanting an effective plan. In Georgia as well as elsewhere, the estate administration & probate process does not have to plague one's heirs with chaos and suspense. The choices are varied and complex enough, however, that one should take the time to consult with an estate planning professional to determine what options are preferable.  

Source: floridatoday.com, "Planning for Privacy and Ease Estate Settlements", Stephen Lacey, June 13, 2016

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