Oct 31, 2023
Beware the Real Hauntings: 5 Estate Nightmares to Avoid This Halloween
Unearth 5 estate planning horrors this Halloween. Dodge probate scares, tax haunts, and beneficiary phantoms. Plan today for a fear-free future.
The truth is that being an estate executor is an unpleasant and often taxing job for the appointed executor. Then why are they even necessary, you might rightfully ask? Well, that’s because the alternative is a nebulous, long-winded court proceeding that can force someone who’s unprepared into dealing with their loved one’s estate, or leave the estate completely in the hands of the probate court, which will then fall back upon established guidelines on how an estate is divided up if no will or executor is found.
Let’s pretend that you have a friend named Miriam. Miriam’s father recently passed away, and he didn’t leave a will. That means that the probate court will choose an executor or administrator, which is often the spouse or next of kin, in order to proximity. Miriam’s father will be considered to have died “intestate,” and the distribution of his assets is decided by a formula laid down by the government—not by Miriam’s father—and this formula can vary from province to province or state to state. So no matter how much Miriam’s father wanted part of his estate to go to his best friend or to the senior dog rescue charity—if there’s no will detailing these wishes, it won’t happen.
Furthermore, an unplanned estate can signify more fees and taxes. Because the probate court will have to appoint someone to be the executor of the estate, more delays and fees will arise until this process is completed. Taxes are normally deferred on death when the assets of the deceased are passed to their spouse, but this doesn't happen when assets are passed to children or other family members. The rules regarding taxation and inheritance may also differ for common-law spouses in some states or provinces.
The bottom line is that estate executors are crucial in ensuring that someone’s wishes are carried out the way they would have wanted it, and ensuring that a deceased person’s final affairs are in order. It’s not a pleasant job, but it’s incredibly important and honorable.
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