Do you have an estate plan? If not, your estate may be headed for probate when you pass away. Probate means that your estate must be reviewed by a judge in your area probate court. Your personal representative will have to produce legal documents regarding different areas of your estate and obtain the judge’s approval to distribute your estate to your heirs and handle tax matters or close out accounts. It can be both an expensive and time consuming process. There may be ways, however, to structure your estate in order to avoid the probate process.
One way to avoid probate may be to set up a revocable trust as part of your estate plan. If you do not have a revocable trust, even if you have a will dictating who your assets should be distributed to, your executor will have to go through probate before distributing them according to your instructions. Any assets you put into a properly established trust, however, do not have to go through probate.
If a trust is revocable it means that, even after you put your assets into the trust, you can change the terms at any time you wish prior to your death. You may act as the trustee for your own revocable trust and manage your assets during your lifetime. When you set up the trust, you can name a successor trustee who will manage or distribute the assets after your death. You can even include a provision in your last will and testament stating that any assets not contained in the trust that you own at your death will be placed into your trust, to avoid probate.
It can be a wise choice to consult your estate planning attorney to see how you can avoid probate. If you do not have an estate plan, you may be headed for probate. With the right estate planning measures, you can smooth the way forward for your heirs. For assistance in establishing a solid estate plan, contact our office to schedule a meeting time.