What is an estate?

If you want to know what an estate is, you don’t want to look for a definition in a legal dictionary, which will define “estate” with something incomprehensible like: “The interest one has in lands, or in any other subject of property.” Black’s Legal Dictionary. Despite being pretty vague, that definition does tell us something what an “estate” is for our purposes but doesn’t tell us much about estate planning.

Basically, an “estate” is what belongs to us when we own property: think real estate. Put simply, estate planning is planning for ownership of your property. The most common way to own property in your name alone, but you can also own property jointly with someone else. You may also own property in a trust. If you die with property owned in your name alone, that property can no longer belong to you since you’re dead. As a result, that property must be transferred to someone else. As an intermediate step between you owning property while alive and the transfer to someone else, the property may be owned by your estate.

Your “estate” is made up of the property you owned while you were alive and that hadn’t been transferred to someone else before you died. The estate is only an intermediate step between you and the person who will ultimately own the property. Your estate is managed and finally distributed under the supervision of the probate court.

In one sense, estate planning can be thought of as planning for how your estate will be managed after you die (e.g. who will manage your estate and who will receive what you own when you die). Much of modern estate planning is dedicated to planning to avoid probate. Using joint ownership (referred to above) and legal devices like trusts, you can ensure that your property doesn’t fall into your probate estate. We’ll get to the reasons you may want to avoid probate a little later on. 

We offer both estate planning and estate administration services. Please contact at 937-985-1843 or by email at info@sovelaw.com us for more information.

Please be patient with us. This section is under construction.