The probate process happens when someone dies without a will or any type of estate planning in place. After death, the person’s estate is automatically handled through the court system, which can be an expensive, lengthy, and painful process for surviving family members.
As you learn more about probate, it is easy to see why this process should be avoided whenever possible. Not only are the fees high, but it can take up to two years before everything is finalized. Additionally, many families are surprised to learn that the probate process shares the deceased person’s financial details in public records, such as the debts, asset value, and how the assets are distributed.
Being proactive right now can reduce the risk of your family dealing with a messy situation after you are gone. Here are three simple ways you can reduce the likelihood of probate:
1. Property Joint Ownership: Real property can be passed to others if joint property ownership has been established. For example, you can change the deed on a house to a joint tenancy. This joint ownership means that the real estate passes to the individual without the need to go through probate if the other person passes away.
2. Pay on Death Financial Accounts: Certain financial accounts, such as IRAs and bank accounts, can be structured with a beneficiary who is paid on the event of death. This option means that the beneficiary has no access to the funds until after death occurs. It is simple to set it up by filling out a form through your financial institution. Once the funds are paid, then the account will be closed.
3. Create a Living Trust: The most effective way you can ensure that your estate is distributed according to your desires is by working with an experienced attorney to create a living trust. This document is legally binding and will pass the assets to your named beneficiaries after your death. Keep in mind that a living trust is different than a will. There are times when a will is still subject to probate.
If you need assistance creating the right legal plan for your estate, then Miles & Hatcher, LLP is just a phone call away. We offer skilled attorneys who know the best solutions to protect your assets and reduce the likelihood of probate in the future. Call for a complimentary consultation: (909) 481-4080.