Inheritance Generally:

•    Probate, personal representative (either executor – testate, or administrator – intestate)
•    Statutes of descent/distribution = intestate succession
•    Heirs/distributes
•    Bequest (personal property), legacy (money), devise (land) – in old English distinctions
•    Estate – all things dead person died leaving
–    Normally spouse, kids
–    Will not know where everything is, but executor must do this or executor is personally liable for not getting all assets into estate
–    Executor pays off all debts and is personally liable
–    Executor will partition according to will
•    Trusts – normally through intent of property owner (v. estate which just appears at death)
•    Trustee – pays taxes, does all hard work, caretaker for beneficiaries who get benefits
•    Settlor, grantor, creator, trustor, donor = current owner of the property
•    Will substitutes are methods to avoid probate – but is probate really that bad?  Its not that bad in Texas but it can be in places like NY, PA, MA, etc.
•    Will substitutes include: joint bank accounts, joint tenancy with right of survivorship, life insurance, 401K, trusts.
–    All of these pass through contracts with the bank, insurance company, etc without the use of probate
–    See Langbein article p. 12
•    Education expenses and anuitization of wealth is leaving kids with not much inheritance