When putting together your estate plan, a common goal for individuals across the country is avoiding probate. Simply recognizing this phenomenon is not enough to understand the multiple reasons why a person might choose to make things easier on their heirs and beneficiaries using estate planning tools that avoid probate.
The first reason to avoid probate is that can take weeks or even months or longer to pay out the assets linked to the deceased individual. During this time, family members might be managing payments for utilities, taxes, storage fees, attorneys, and the funeral itself. Avoiding the probate process empowers family members to access assets right away.
The second major reason that many people wish to avoid probate process is because it is highly public. Since probate of a Last Will and Testament is a state court proceeding, all the information about the deceased individual can become a matter of public record. Otherwise private information may be made public record regarding a deceased person’s assets, liabilities, beneficiaries, and any named personal representative by court filings made during the probate process. Very few people want to have information that they consider private to become public knowledge during the probate process.
The good news is that you can use the state planning tools like revocable living trusts and other transfer on death strategies to help keep the matters of your estate from becoming a matter of public record while also making life easier on your beneficiaries. In many cases, probate can easily be avoided with the guidance of an experienced trust and probate attorney. One meeting can help provide an introduction into the various tools and strategies available.