Probate is the legal process of distributing the estate of someone who has died, known as the deceased or decedent, among his or her heirs. It is important to know that the probate process can be long and expensive. However, with the help of an probate attorney, you can avoid these problems and save time and money for yourself and your loved ones.
What is Probate?
A probate, or estate administration proceeding, is a court-supervised legal process that transfers titles of assets owned by someone who has died to those who are entitled to inherit it under law. If the decedent did not leave a Last Will and Testament, or if there is one but it does not completely dispose of all assets and debts, then application of the state’s law becomes necessary and this may leave assets to unintended or undesired recipients.
How an Estate Planning Attorney Can Help
An estate planning attorney is an important legal asset when it comes to avoiding probate. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to advise you on how best to make sure your affairs are handled after death. This may include the use of trusts, beneficiary designations, or even joint ownership.
How to Avoid Probate
To avoid probate, keep in mind these tips:
1. Use of a Living Trust: A living trust names someone to manage your estate after you become incapacitated or pass away; as long as you are alive and competent, you remain in control of everything that happens with your money and property.
2. Name Beneficiaries for Accounts, Life Insurance Policies, and Any Other Assets: When you name beneficiaries for accounts like bank accounts or investment accounts, or life insurance policies, those named will inherit those items upon your death without having to go through the probate process.
3. Naming an Executor or Executing a Last Will and Testament Does Not Avoid the Probate Process: Thinking a “Will” avoids probate is one of the most common misstatements heard. If assets require probate to transfer title (they are not jointly owned, don’t have a beneficiary, or are not in a trust), the executor is responsible for gathering information about your estate and distributing assets according to what you have specified in your Will under the supervision of the probate court.
Professional Legal Services
Most people don’t realize that probate can be avoided by using an experienced and skilled probate attorney. The team at Paths Law Firm is here to help. Read more about the probate process and how we can help here.