Probate is the court supervised process of authenticating the will, gathering assets, paying bills, filing taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. The much-maligned probate process occurs after death. Any assets owned in your individual name or made payable to your estate will go through probate.
It is important to make sure that the ownership of your assets aligns with your estate planning goals to avoid probate. If you own assets in the name of your trust or other contract (life insurance, annuity, retirement account) or as joint tenants with right of survivorship, those assets will bypass the probate process.
Why avoid probate?
Probate can be expensive, time-consuming, and public. Shocking to many of our clients, it’s actually less expensive to pay for trust planning and life-long maintenance than to pay for a cheap will and go through probate. It’s faster too – and much more private.
Many people don’t realize that probate takes months and sometimes years to meander through the courts. They certainly don’t realize that their assets, debts, beneficiaries, and beneficiary contact information will be listed at the courthouse for all to see. Unfortunately, probate is a public process that invites predators to flock in.
Our clients tend to want to keep their family and financial affairs private after their death just as they have done during their lifetime. We help clients meet these goals with trust planning and probate avoidance.
Of course, on occasion, an estate is so simple or small that probate is unnecessary, and a trust isn’t needed. Littleton Legal PLLC helps clients like you determine the best estate planning path for them. It’s never a one-size-fits-all situation.