When a person dies without having made a Last Will and Testament, and they have property titled in their name alone, whether it is a boat, house, bank account or a motorcycle, there is a good likelihood that they have made life more difficult and more expensive for their surviving spouse or children.

By not leaving a Will, the deceased has not had the opportunity to name an Executor, therefore the survivors must apply to the Court for the right to probate their estate.  The process of transferring assets of a decedent to those people who rightfully should receive the assets is known as probate.  Without a Will the survivors must apply to the Court for the right to be named Administrator, and then will be required to post a bond and obtain permission of the Court to transfer the assets.  Without a Will, which appoints an Executor and waives bond, your survivors will be required to post a bond, which is generally twice the amount of the personal property value.  This is usually somewhere between $50.00 and $150.00 per year for the minimum bond requirement.  If the Administrator of your estate sells real estate, then the money received from the sale increases the amount of personal property and the bond must be increased.  All of this can be avoided by simply preparing a Will naming an Executor and directing that no bond is required.

Strip, Hoppers, Leithart McGrath & Terlecky has experienced estate planning attorneys who can advise you on this process and how to ease the burden on your loved ones after you are gone.

What is written here is not legal advice. You should consult your attorney before applying any of this information to a specific situation.