Probate Is a Lengthy Process

Dealing with your final affairs can be stressful, especially when you have a family to consider. Planning for your death and your family’s life afterward is crucial to ensuring your final wishes are handled.

You may have heard some nightmare stories about the probate process. Depending on the size of your estate and the laws where you live, probate may be mandatory, as an estate attorney, can explain. Some people advocate avoiding probate at all costs. Take a look at some of the things you can do in your planning that may minimize the impact of probate on your loved ones.

Probate Is a Lengthy Process

Probate court is a legal process that many states require if an estate is valued over a certain amount. The reason for the court’s intervention in estates is to ensure that a person’s will is followed correctly and that the money in the estate goes where it should. However, like many court procedures, probate may take months to complete. First, the will’s representative must calculate the assets in an estate and provide them to the court. Next, creditors receive notice that probate has begun. This is followed by a waiting period allowing creditors to place a claim to the estate. Only after the bills are paid are heirs given their share. This means your family will wait months before getting any relief.

Not Everything Goes Through Probate

All assets are not created equal. In an estate, not everything that holds value is required to go through the probate process. Some of these instruments are recommended by estate planning lawyers to help deliver money quickly to family members in a time of need. Others don’t pass through probate simply because they are held jointly with someone who is still living. The most common ways to directly pass assets to someone are via trusts and any account with a beneficiary. Trusts allow you to place assets into a holding account for the benefit of the trust and the trustee you name. Insurance policies and retirement accounts have designated beneficiaries who automatically receive money upon your death. All of these fiduciary tools help you pass assets directly to heirs.

Avoiding probate can help those you love to get an infusion of cash at an emotionally charged and financially strapped time. Nothing will get your heirs money instantly upon your death, but insurance policies, trusts and retirement accounts should provide some relief sooner than leaving it up to probate court. Consult with an estate planning lawyer and find out the best route for caring for your loved ones.