Many individuals who begin performing tasks related to estate planning generally want to avoid probate. An estate planning attorney, can help you understand why many clients want to avoid probate.
The Meaning of Probate
Probate administration is the legal process arising after the death of a decedent. Probate courts oversee this legal process termed either formal probate administration or information probate administration. Probate involves hearings, attorneys, and court appearances that can cost time and money.
The probate court will investigate the testator’s will and determine if it is legally valid. A legally valid will must adhere to the requirements of the particular jurisdiction in which the will is executed. Probate courts will also administer the estate and distribute assets such as real property, personal property, and other forms of property owned by the testator.
The probate court will also determine the estate’s value. Taxes and debts are paid off by the estate assets first and then the remaining assets are distributed in accordance with the will provisions. The probate administration process is time consuming and costly. Many attorneys may be involved in the administration of a complex estate.
Any estate, regardless of its size or value, must go through probate unless other estate planning techniques are used. Some jurisdictions will have different types of probate procedures depending on the value of the estate.
What If I Have A Valid Will?
A valid will does not prevent your estate from going through probate administration. A probate judge must determine if a will is valid or invalid under the laws of the jurisdiction where the probate court is located. A will provides instructions to the probate judge regarding the administration of the estate. The will informs the judge of the testator’s wishes and where the testator wants their assets to go after their death.
The will must also go through probate in the county in which the decedent was living at the time of the decedent’s death. Probate can be complicated if the testator moved before their death or has assets in different counties throughout one state or across multiple states.
Avoiding Probate Court
Creating a revocable living trust is one method of avoiding probate administration. The other method of avoiding probate administration involves creating a valid will but using beneficiary designations on every asset in an individual’s estate. These options will help you avoid probate administration.
Revocable living trusts permit a person to transfer assets into a trust by funding the trust. Assets funded into a trust are thereafter outside the probate process. The assets are now governed by the trust provisions and not a valid will. Trust assets can be passed to your beneficiaries without going through the probate process. This will make the distribution of your assets quicker and more efficient.
Using beneficiary designations such as payable-on-death and transfer-on-death accounts can help you avoid probate administration. Beneficiary designations avoid probate administration.