Whether the estate planner is looking to avoid the probate process or families are looking to negotiate the probate process, it is important to understand what the probate process entails. Probate is essentially a court-supervised process that transfers the estate planner’s property when they pass.
What happens during the probate process?
Several things happen during the probate process including:
- The collection of all the probate property of the estate
- The collection of all rights to income and dividends of the estate
- Paying all debts, claims, taxes and other liabilities owed by the estate
- Settling any disputes concerning the estate
- Distributing and transferring all remaining property of the estate to heirs or beneficiaries
Why may estate planners and families want to avoid probate?
Overall, the probate process can be time-consuming and costly. Estate planners and families may wish to avoid the fees and court costs associated with the probate process. Options to consider that may help estate planners and families avoid probate include the use of revocable trusts, gifts and joint ownership with right of survivorship designations for accounts such as checking and other accounts.
In order to avoid the probate process, estate planners need to plan for the future ahead of time. The estate planning process allows them to do this along with designating in advance how they want their property to be distributed and how they want to be cared for if they become incapacitated at some point. By utilizing estate planning resources in advance, estate planners can use those tools to help them avoid probate if that is a goal they have for their estate plan.
The key to all estate planning is that it must be done in advance. Doing so provides estate planners and families with peace of mind they need for the future.