Without any doubt, your loved ones will one day feel your loss very heavily. Naturally, you want to do everything in your power to make it easier for them when the time comes.
Unfortunately, the probate process can be a serious strain, and any problems that come up are likely to add a lot of unnecessary grief and stress to those you care about the most.
What can you do to make things easier for those you leave behind? Here are some suggestions:
1. Get your estate plan together
The most important step you can take to simplify the probate process is to get your estate plan together – something that only two out of every three adults in the United States haven’t yet managed to do. This includes creating a will, establishing trusts and designating beneficiaries for assets like your life insurance and retirement accounts. A good estate plan can make the probate process go smoothly.
2. Keep your documents in order
Your estate plan won’t be of much use if it can’t be located. Organize all your important documents, including your will, the deeds to your properties, financial records, prepaid funeral and burial plans and anything else that may be needed in one location. Make sure that your loved ones know where to find them.
3. Designate a capable executor
Don’t name your spouse or your oldest child your estate’s executor if they really aren’t up to handling the job. You need someone responsible, organized and capable of managing both the legal aspects of the probate process and any family conflicts. It’s also important to make certain that your chosen executor is willing to take on the responsibility. If they are not, that could lead to unnecessary delays while someone new is chosen.
4. Communicate your intentions
A lot of drama can start after a death when family members have opposing ideas about what the deceased “really wanted.” Talk to your loved ones about your estate plan and make sure that your wishes are known. That can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts over your estate later.
5. Update your plans as needed
Finally, it’s important to update your estate regularly. It’s recommended that you review and update your plan every three to five years, and sooner if you have any major life changes.
Legal guidance can help you examine all your estate planning options so that you end up with a plan that truly suits your needs.