Monday, April 15, 2013

Thanks for the Condolences

My family and I appreciate all the condolences here and on Google Plus. As a way of reciprocating I want to pass along a minor but interesting aspect of managing a loved estate. As gamers we deal with complex systems of rules and none is as more complicated than the legal system. Especially those areas of the law that we don't deal with regularly like inheritance.

In the United States when a person dies the traditional approach is for their assets to pass into their estate. There it goes into probate where the deceased debts are discharged and the remaining proceed divided in accordance with the will or by the rules of the state if there is no will.

In addition to this there is often things like life insurance that pay money on a person's death. In contrast to the above the money does not go through probate but instead is paid to the named beneficiaries. Only when none of the beneficiaries are alive does the money go into the estate and has to go through probate.

The process of probate does take time and often a source of a stress during a difficult time. When my mother died a few years back the process was simple as the law provides for an easy transfer of assets between spouses. But now with my father death, my family has to face the full process.

Traditionally probates can be avoided by the use of trusts and similar setups but those are often not easily available to those of modest means. And trusts comes with some restrictions while minor are a pain to deal with while alive.

And thanks to the good advice of my family's lawyer it is turning out to be a lot easier than the traditional probate process. The reason is that the idea of named beneficiaries has spread beyond insurance and into many areas like financial accounts and even the house deeds. By having beneficiaries the asset or account in question immediately transfers to those on the list upon presentation of a death certification. For house some states allow the transfer of the deed to a beneficiary deed which means the house will also immediately transfer to the people on the list.

When my family setup this up with my father it was like OK the lawyer said this was a good idea so lets do it". But it one thing to read about it and quite another to experience it. It really made this often stressful aspect of  a loved one passing away easy as it can be. I recommend for yourself to consult with your family lawyer and see how much you can take advantage of this in your state.

Once again thanks for all the condolences they were much appreciated.


Christian Blouin said...

I'm sorry for your loss. It's good to see that you didn't have to learn something the hard way and a good setup helped in a more difficult time.

Nathan Irving said...

My condolences on your loss. I'm glad things are going smoothly with the estate; my grandfather died about 18 months ago and it's taken quite a while to sort out his medical bills and etc. (there's not a lot of conflict, fortunately - that had been planned for. It's just that bills kept coming for months afterwards, so money had to be held back until everything was settled.)

Michael S said...

Sorry for your loss, Rob.

I've been looking at wills and trusts as well, so it's good to hear that this sort of thing works well. Thanks.

mwschmeer said...

So sorry for your loss, Rob.

I'm not on Google Plus, so just heard about it here.

This is something my wife and I were discussing recently, as we last updated our wills when our 2nd child was born--and we now have 4 kids, live in an entirely different state and have a heck of a lot more personal property to disburse should something happen to us.