News you can use: Forbes’ top 3 estate planning questions

Helpful tips about the probate process, hiring an attorney and executors

Do you have pressing questions on how to begin you estate plans? In this Forbes article, “Probate, Wills, Executors: Your Estate Planning Questions Answered,” a panel of financial advisors and wealth strategists addressed the top three estate planning questions most asked by their readers.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the top three estate planning questions and answers. Read the article for the full Q&A.

1. How do I keep my heirs from having to go through probate?

Most people want to avoid probate since it can be such a lengthy process (typically 6-12 months) and can often be costly. However, the panel weighs in on why it might be a good idea for an estate to go through probate. They also offer suggestions on how certain assets may be passed directly to your heirs. (Hint: it’s called a revocable living trust!)

2. Do I need a lawyer for a will or can I do it myself with an online form? 

While hiring a lawyer to draft your will is not a necessity, the panel agreed that it is probably a wise choice to use an attorney to finalize your estate planning documents. If you are unable to hire an attorney, do not let that deter you from creating a will. Everyone should have a will. Unfortunately, many Americans in their 50s and 60s still do not have one in place.

3. How do you pick an executor? 

An executor is the person with the legal responsibility to ensure that your wishes for your estate are carried out and any remaining assets are properly transferred. The panel provides tips on how to select the right executor and how to name this person in your will. (One more reason to have a will in place!)

Duke University Office of Gift Planning encourages you to read this article and consider how these issues may apply to your own personal planning. As always, please consult with your financial advisor/attorney on these matters.

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Gift Planning

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Duke University’s Office of Gift Planning specializes in charitable gift planning for estates, charitable trusts and annuities, and other complex current and future gift plans.

For more information, please contact the Duke University Office of Gift Planning.