Inheritance and Debt: Take Charge on the Matter with an Attorney

In the best of worlds, debt, inheritance, and taxation matters would never be left unresolved. However, the best of all possible circumstances being somewhat hard to come by — let alone maintain — there are times when figuring out the correct amount due in taxes or who will inherit the capital and properties you’ve accumulated will demand the aid of professionals: an ace accountant, a tax settlement attorney, a probate lawyer, or a very skilled IRS audit attorney.

Other debt issues, for which people are wont to make a go of it by themselves, are those concerning inheritance affairs. This practice is so widespread that, by some estimates, approximately 70 percent of Americans do not leave a will behind when they die. In effect, the matter of who inherits what is left entirely up to the courts to decide. The proceedings for this latter course of (in)action is termed “probate,” in legalese. If you can catch one, probate lawyers can expertly explain this process’ proceedings. The main aspect to keep in mind is that through probate, the court divvies up and distributes among inheritors a person’s estate.

Most typically, after outstanding debts have been accounted for, any remaining wealth or possessions are transferred over to the immediate family members the departed leave behind — a spouse or children. Active probate and tax attorneys in California know that state law counts with provisions for alternative routes to probate in instances, for example, where the estate being inherited is “small,” according to the definitions furnished by the laws themselves.

A good tax settlement attorney will tell you, moreover, that if during a taxable year a deceased person earns a significant income then tax returns must be filed one last time on their behalf. To know the income values for which a final tax return is or isn’t necessary some research will have to be conducted — these values tend to vary by year. If you do not have a spouse, executor, or other administrator to leave your estate to, then it’s a pressing matter to consult with an attorney on what your options are. Otherwise you will have no say on what happens to your assets after you’re gone. Much is at stake, so giving proper consideration to these weighty issues is crucial.

Sam Walters is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her writing appears in print and online.

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