Distribution of inheritance property and assets can be a complicated process. Unless the decedent has prepared an irrevocable trust, all their worldly possessions must be placed in probate. On average, the probate process extends between six and nine months. If family disputes arise or heirs contest the Will, probate can drag on for years.

Probated inheritance property cannot be distributed to heirs until the decedent's Last Will and Testament is validated and outstanding debts are paid. An estate administrator is designated within the last will and is responsible for all matters related to the estate.

Common duties include filing legal documents through the probate court, preparation of county tax assessor forms, submission of death certificate and date of death values for banking accounts and financial portfolios, obtaining property values and securing assets until distribution to beneficiaries is approved through the court.

When assets are held in probate, the estate is responsible for properly caring for the property and paying any expenses associated with it. For example, if decedents own a home with a mortgage, the estate must continue paying mortgage payments, property taxes, homeowner association dues, homeowner's insurance and property maintenance.

Inheritance property matters can become more complicated if the decedent dies without leaving a Will (intestate). Unless a family member or close personal friend volunteers to become the estate executor, a probate court will have to appoint an outsider to manage estate duties.

The best way to prevent loved ones from dealing with probate, inheritance taxes and extended waiting times for distribution of assets, is to establish a trust. Many types of trust exist including revocable and irrevocable trusts and irrevocable life insurance trusts.

The last will and testament is placed inside the trust, along with valuable assets. Inheritance assets held in trusts avoid probate and distribution can occur as soon as proper legal documents are filed.

Unfortunately, the majority of people procrastinate about estate planning. It is understandable people don't like to think about their impending death. However, it is important to understand the unnecessary burden placed upon your family without having your final wishes legally documented.

Estate planning is not difficult. Techniques range from executing a Will, Power of Attorney and healthcare proxies to establishing irrevocable trusts.

Recipients of inheritance property gifted through a Will are responsible for state and federal inheritance taxes. Assets held in trusts are usually exempt from taxation. Inheritance taxes are governed by each state. Some states do not impose inheritance taxes as all. Others impose tax based on the fair market value of inherited property.

If you receive inheritance cash consider investing most of the funds. Many people who receive large sums of cash indulge in a spending spree and buy frivolous items. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

If you have never invested before, take time to become educated about the numerous investment opportunities. Don't jump in blindly. Take time to conduct research and consult with professional investors who can help you reach your financial goals.

Remember, your loved ones worked hard to acquire property and financial investment accounts. Don't squander their money. Instead, invest it wisely and learn strategies that can make it grow so you can pass it along to your loved ones.