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Understanding law to manage your estate

Understanding the legal requirements for estate planning and probate for your state can help you plan accordingly. By knowing what the law requires, you can create an estate plan that is likely to stand up in court while coming as close to your wishes as possible. For example, in most states in the nation, you can purposefully leave a child or other heir out of your estate. The same isn't true for a spouse in most cases.

Because of the estate process in our country, you don't have to go to extreme measures if you don't want to leave certain assets to certain people. Outside of certain requirements by states, you can choose to do with your money and assets as you please, which means you don't have to resort to deathbed money shredding.

Reportedly, a grandmother in another country was so disappointed in her grandchildren that she decided to disinherit them. To do so, she shredded money in an amount over $1 million U.S. The heirs later found evidence of the shredded money on the woman's deathbed.

The grandmother's efforts were for naught, though. The country's central bank has said it will replace the funds if the heirs can produce the shredded bits of paper money.

In our country, you can use the legal estate and probate process to spell out how you want your assets distributed. Minus a valid will or other estate document, your assets will be distributed according to state law and the court. Even with a will, heirs could become involved in probate litigation if one or more individuals think your decisions might be invalid due to mental capability or a legal precedent. Working with a legal professional to understand how such issues might arise can help you create an estate plan that avoids such litigation.

Source: Forbes, "Austrian Woman Destroys Million Dollar Fortune Rather Than Pay Out Heirs," Kelly Phillips, Nov. 07, 2015

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