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"Myths About Wills, Estates, and Probate"



Section 1: "Myths About Wills, Estates, and Probate"

Myth #1. The state will take my property if I do not have a Will.

This statement is simply not true. Every state has laws that say who will receive your property if you die without a Will. And the truth is that these state laws go to great lengths to name substitute heirs and beneficiaries. If fact, about the only way a state can end up with your estate is if you do not have any relatives, known or unknown, and no one comes forth claiming to be your relative. In sum, it is not impossible for a state to take your estate, but it is extremely difficult and very unlikely.

Myth #2. Estate taxes will eat up my estate.

For most of us, this statement is not true. Only 2% to 3% of all estates are subject to paying estate taxes. And most of those estates are worth more than $5 million. In 2001, only estates having a value of over $675,000.00 were subject to federal estate taxes. Congress passed legislation which increases the exemption amount each year until the year 2010 when there will not be any federal estate taxes. However, if no action is taken by Congress, the law will expire on January 1, 2011 and the 2001 rates and exemptions will again be applicable. Therefore, if your estate will be worth more than $675,000.00, you should consult with an estate planning attorney.

Myth #3. My estate will be tied up in probate for years and my loved ones will not be able to use my house or bank account.

This statement used to be true, but it is generally not true now. State legislators have recognized the hardships created for some people by the probate process. Most states have made dramatic changes in laws so that many estates are now settled in less than a year, and houses and bank accounts are not tied up during the probate period. This is especially true when property is passing from a deceased spouse to the surviving spouse.

This ebook is for general information only and may not be applicable to your situation. Talk with a lawyer licensed in your state.

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