If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, receiving an inheritance may not be the first thing on your mind. Probate proceedings can be emotionally devastating, even when they are free from challenges or unusual difficulty. Nonetheless, people who have been named as heirs or beneficiaries to a Texas estate should still take steps to ensure they can make the most of the legacy they’ve been left.
Receiving Your Inheritance
If the decedent left behind a will, that document will detail how they wanted their assets to be distributed after death. A properly drafted will should designate someone as the estate executor—the individual tasked with overseeing the estate’s affairs through probate and until its closure.
While a simple estate may be resolved within a reasonable span of time, beneficiaries can still take the following steps to improve their chances of receiving the assets the decedent intended to give them:
Meet the executor.
Unless the estate executor is an attorney or other professional, there is a good chance they may be overwhelmed by California’s probate process. Beneficiaries should approach the executor respectfully, ask to see the will, and learn whether there is going to be any sort of settlement meeting where the estate’s affairs will be discussed.
Find out whether you need an attorney.
People who are receiving relatively small inheritances may not need to retain any legal counsel. However, heirs to valuable or varied assets may need an attorney to help them figure out the tax ramifications of the inheritance. A good lawyer can also help resolve any disputes that might arise during the probate process.
Planning Your Next Steps
Anyone who is receiving a significant inheritance should carefully consider:
Although California does not levy a state inheritance tax, the Internal Revenue Service will still collect taxes on any earnings which are accrued from an inheritance.
Not all money should be spent quickly. Someone who receives the proceeds of a savings account or stock portfolio should think about how that money may be saved for the long term.
An estate planning attorney can help plan for tax obligations and suggest strategies to minimize them.
Creating Your Own Estate Plan
Someone who has received a major inheritance may want to consider how to build their own legacy. Every person—no matter if they’re single, married, divorced, or a parent—should have a comprehensive estate plan that shields their loved ones from having to endure probate. An inherited house, for instance, can be saved for future generations if it is placed in a trust or a joint tenancy arrangement.
How A California Estate Planning Attorney Can Help
An estate planning attorney familiar with California’s probate laws and process may be able to help you keep what your loved one intended you to have, even if the estate is challenged by another beneficiary. A lawyer can also advise you on strategies for reducing your tax obligations while working on a plan to preserve your nest egg for future generations.
Do You Need To Speak With An Attorney About Estate Planning?
If you need to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer please contact us online or call us directly at 800.756.5596 to first register for one of our free, informative seminars. Your attendance will qualify you for a special discount for our estate planning services should you decide to make a free appointment at the conclusion of the seminar and choose to proceed with us. We proudly serve clients throughout California with offices in Torrance, Newport Beach, Orange, Woodland Hills and Pasadena.