When it comes to managing your affairs upon death, having a plan in place can make all the difference. One option that some people explore is keeping their estate out of probate.
Proactively avoiding probate does require the right preparation and paperwork, but if done correctly, you could save your loved one’s time and money when you pass away.
Why do people try to avoid probate?
Probate is a court process that occurs after someone passes away and usually entails settling financial affairs such as paying off debts, identifying assets, and distributing any remaining property. The probate process can be slow and costly due to filing requirements and potential legal delays, so it should be avoided if possible.
An estate plan can help with this. Creating a will or trust before death may let the deceased’s estate bypass the probate court altogether. Additional options can include setting up joint ownership on assets like real estate or banking accounts and enabling assets to pass directly to heirs.
One common mistake people make is using a will as their only asset transfer tool. Even though it is widely recognized as the primary document used to initiate the transfer of assets, it is not enough on its own. A will only serves to state your wishes after death, and assets must be identified and transferred by an estate executor or beneficiaries.
To avoid this mistake, you should use other tools in conjunction with the will, such as trusts and beneficiary designations, which provide an orderly method for transferring your assets outside the probate process.
By careful planning and creating a solid estate plan, it may be possible to keep your estate from going into probate. You will enjoy greater peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will be spared a lengthy legal process after you are gone.