Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

Probate, the court-overseen process of settling the estate of a deceased individual, has become something people are always talking about avoiding. Probate, among many other things, involves the gathering of assets and the distribution of property from a decedent’s estate to his or her heirs. It is also the time when any creditors of the estate are paid. Unfortunately, like many things involving the legal system, there are drawbacks to probate. So many drawbacks, in fact, that more and more people are looking for ways to avoid the process either partially or altogether. Fortunately, through proper estate planning, there are several options for you to put in place in order to avoid probate completely or, at the very least, partially.

Why Would You Want to Estate Plan to Avoid Probate?

The two biggest reasons people estate plan to avoid probate is that the process is time-consuming and expensive. The administration of the estate during probate can move along slowly. The exact time will vary based on factors such as the complexity of the estate, the efficiency of the executor of the estate, and whether or not anyone is disputing the validity of a will. As the slow wheels of the judicial system move, heirs are left waiting for their inheritance the entire time. Heirs will not receive any inheritance while probate is pending. In addition to the time it takes to probate an estate, there are the costs associated with the process. The court will take a portion of the estate’s value to cover probate fees. There is also the likelihood that you will have probate attorneys getting involved at one point or another, which means attorney fees will need to be paid.

Another added benefit of estate planning to avoid probate is that it is more private. Probate is a public process. This means that all probate proceedings become a matter of public record. Public records are searchable and anyone can go in and look at them. The public record would include information regarding the distribution of the assets of an estate. The value of the assets and to whom they have been given would go in public access files. If you wish to keep these financial affairs private, estate planning to avoid probate is the way to go.

There are several ways a person can avoid probate. Utilizing a living trust as a means of distributing assets to heirs is a popular method. Anything placed in a living trust will be directly distributed to beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust. None of it will go through probate. Additionally, jointly held property with rights of survivorship will not go through probate. Instead, the ownership interest of the owner who passed away will directly transfer to the surviving owner or owners. You also have the option of designating beneficiaries for things such as life insurance policies or retirement accounts. With beneficiaries listed, these things will not go through probate and the benefits will pass directly to the designated beneficiaries.

Estate Planning Attorney

Probate is avoidable, but you need to estate plan now. Waiting jeopardizes the benefits that can come from putting a comprehensive estate plan in place. At Verras Law, we are here to create an estate plan that takes the best care of you and your loved ones. Contact Verras Law today.