The probate process is a piece to the puzzle that you should understand when you are contemplating your legacy. This process can come into play when an estate is being administered, but every asset transfer is not subject to the probate process.
If you die while you are in direct, sole personal possession of property, it would become probate property. This would be true if you had a last will to direct its distribution, and it would also be true if you had no estate planning documents at all.
There are some reasons why the process is usually not very welcome if you are an heir to an estate that is going through probate. One of them is the time consumption. The heirs do not receive their inheritances while the estate is being probated, and it can get lengthy. Complicated cases can take longer, but the simplest of cases will take at least nine months to a year on average.
Probate expenses are another drawback. There are court costs, and the executor of the estate is entitled to remuneration for his or her time and effort. There can be legal and accounting fees, and appraisal and liquidation expenses can add to the debit column.
Another probate pitfall is the loss of privacy. Anyone who is interested could access probate records, because probate is a public proceeding. These people could find out how the estate was distributed, and this can cause hard feelings among interested parties.
There are avenues that can be taken that would facilitate probate avoidance. If you were to decide that you would like to get assets into the pockets of your loved ones outside of probate, you could utilize a revocable living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan.
This type of trust can be useful for people who are not especially wealthy. If you establish a revocable living trust, you maintain control of the assets throughout your life. You can act as the trustee, and you can also act as the initial beneficiary.
In the trust agreement, you name a successor trustee, and you name successor beneficiaries. After you are gone, the assets would be distributed in accordance with your wishes, and you do not have to allow for lump sums to be distributed all at once. These distributions would not be subject to the probate process.
A revocable living trust can facilitate probate avoidance, but there are other possibilities.
Our Firm Can Help
If you have reached this website, you are looking for information about probate and estate planning in general. This is a positive first step, because you should certainly act in a fully informed manner.
We can help if you would like to discuss your estate planning objectives with a licensed professional. Our firm offers free consultations, and you can send us a message through this page to set up an appointment: Smithtown, Long Island Estate Planning Attorneys.