At Lucksinger Law, P.C., we know that you have worked hard to achieve your dreams and plan sensibly for the future. And like most of us, you are almost certainly overwhelmed by the various drains on your time and energy, as we are all busier than ever with personal, professional, and familial responsibilities.
Of all of the responsibilities competing for your attention, there is one important task that you should put at the top of your to-do list: your estate plan. To that end, let’s address a challenging subject that usually prompts a discussion about establishing a comprehensive estate plan: why and how you should avoid probate at your death. To unpack this topic, we need to answer a few fundamental questions.
What is probate?
When you pass away, probate is the legal process by which the court system makes sure that your will is valid (if you have one); appoints a trusted individual (known as a personal representative or executor) to act on your behalf and wind up your affairs by paying your outstanding bills and filing the necessary tax returns; and transfers what is left to your loved ones, chosen charities, and other beneficiaries.
Why should you avoid probate?
There are three key reasons why you will want to avoid subjecting your loved ones to the probate process: (1) It is a public process, so it exposes intimate details about you, your finances, your business, and your family to anyone who has some free time and a few dollars; (2) It can consume lots of time (several months or longer), annoying and tiring out your loved ones, possibly generating fights or even court action, and delaying your loved ones’ receipt of the money and property they are entitled to; and (3) It can cost a pretty penny and eat up a large portion of your remaining money and property.
How can you avoid probate?
First, appreciate that only accounts and property that are in your name, are payable to your estate, or lack a beneficiary, payable-on-death, or transfer-on-death designation will be subject to the probate process. One useful strategy is to create something called a revocable living trust (RLT). An RLT enables you to transfer ownership of your accounts and property to the trust and bypass the probate process, making life simpler for everyone involved with handling your affairs at your death or if you become unable to manage your own affairs during your lifetime.
If you are interested in learning more about probate avoidance strategies and tactics you can leverage to simplify your planning, we are here to help. Lucksinger Law, P.C. is here for you so let’s get started today.