Planning an estate is critical if you intend on leaving your family with some assets and financial security. How you plan your estate can mean the difference between a decent inheritance and a hefty percentage spent on court time. So, should you avoid probate? It really depends on your desire for privacy and the complexity of your personal estate, because probate is not always lengthy and costly if you do not have many assets.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Ask yourself a few questions to get a better idea of whether you should worry about probate. Then you can decide how something like a living trust or other estate planning strategies could help you better ensure the financial future of your family.
Would Your Family Need Financing Right Away?
If you unexpectedly pass away or become incapacitated, will your family have any finances to support themselves, or pay for things like funeral or household expenses? Probate can tie up access to your bank accounts for months in some cases, which could cause serious problems depending on your family’s situation. One way to allow your family to have access to your bank accounts immediately is to have transfer-on-death forms in place which, upon your passing, give your designated beneficiary the rights to your accounts.
Can You Afford Probate?
As you examine your estate and think it might be more complex than average, you may be facing a costly probate process. Especially if your family will need an attorney to help them through the process, legal fees can add up quickly, taking a significant percentage of the final estate value. Your beneficiaries may end up having to sell some of your assets to pay for this process rather than keeping them as you intended.
Do You Value Privacy?
Because probate is at the state level, no matter how simple your affairs are, everything about your estate is subject to public record including assets, debts, your named beneficiaries, and representatives. Many states are putting their public records online which makes it easy for anyone to access information you may not want anyone outside of your family to know.
Protect Your Estate
As you examine your belongings and finances and determine that probate is something you would like many of your assets to avoid, there are strategies you can put into place to ensure the right beneficiaries have access immediately following an unexpected event. Speak with an experienced probate lawyer in Folsom, CA to see what options will work best for your situation. Give yourself peace of mind that your heirs will be protected in the future.
Thanks to Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning and if it is best to avoid probate.