Wills and Estates

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What is an estate?

A probate estate includes all the property distributed by an executor or administrator at the time of death. In other words, it is the property that can be disposed of by will, such as property owned outright, the decedent's share of property owned as a tenant in common with another, and life insurance or death proceeds if payable to the estate.

For federal estate tax purposes, the gross estate generally includes all property owned by a person at the time of their death. IRC 2031(a). Thus, a great deal more property may be in the gross estate than is in the probate estate. For example, in addition to the property in the probate estate, it can include life insurance owned by the decedent, regardless of beneficiary, and a share of jointly owned property. In addition to this, it also includes transfers or gifts made during lifetime to the extent the transfers exceeded the $10,000 annual gift exclusion. There are specialized provisions that include such areas as powers of appointment (a power given by another to dispose of certain property as they desire), annuities, joint ownership with rights of survivorship and life insurance.


This is not a substitute for legal advice.  An attorney must be consulted.
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