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Why do I need to worry about probate?

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2023 | Estate Administration And Probate, Estate Planning |

Probate is not only time-consuming but also a lot of work. The person you name as an executor or personal representative will need to inventory all your assets and file the supporting documents with the probate court. They need to communicate with the creditors of your estate and the surviving heirs and beneficiaries.

The court will only authorize the distribution of your estate once they can determine the extent of your estate and after the personal representative has settled all the estate’s outstanding debt and financial obligations. The probate process can take over a year to finalize. It can give your surviving loved ones the unnecessary financial burdens of multiple excessive filing fees and delayed inheritance. On top of that, probate proceedings are public, meaning anyone can access your estate information.

How can you avoid probate?

If your estate assets are worth more than $50,000 in Virginia, it will go through the probate process. Therefore, you can avoid probate by owning a small estate or talking to an attorney with experience in estate planning. They can help you incorporate different instruments into your estate plan that can allow you to bypass the probate process. Here are the options your attorney might recommend:

  • Living trusts
  • Joint tenancy with the right of survivorship
  • Tenancy by the entirety
  • Payable-on-death designations
  • Transfer-on-death registration
  • Transfer-on-death deeds

Estate planning instruments can allow you to transfer your assets upon death automatically, but some do not apply to certain assets. Your attorney can help you design a comprehensive estate plan and continuously update it so that it remains relevant to your current life circumstances.

Estate planning is planning for tomorrow

Death can come unexpectedly. Setting up a trust and transferring your assets to it can take time. If you want to learn how to maximize your estate plan, start preparing as soon as possible.