When you are first delving the into the subject of estate planning, you may come across the concept of probate avoidance. If you have never heard anything about probate, you would probably wonder exactly what it is, and you would also wonder why someone would want to avoid it.
We will endeavor to answer these questions in this blog post.
Legal Process of Estate Administration
Probate could be described as a legal process. You may be under the impression that a last will is something that is privately read among family members without any supervision. This is not how it works in the real world. When a last will is used to transfer assets, the executor is required to admit the will to probate.
We practice law in the state of New York. In our state, probate matters are handled by the Surrogate’s Court.
During probate, the court examines the will to make sure that it is valid in the eyes of the law. If any interested party wanted to contest the validity of the will, they could come forward during the probate process.
When someone passes away, the individual may have outstanding debts. As a result, creditors must be notified during probate, and they are given a certain amount of time to come forward.
The executor must ultimately inventory the assets that comprise the estate and prepare the assets for eventual distribution to the heirs. This can involve appraisals and property liquidation.
As you can probably tell by now, probate is a time-consuming process. In our state, it will take at least nine months to a year, even if there are no significant complications. This time consumption is one drawback that you may want to avoid if possible.
The time consumption is one pitfall, but there is also the expense factor. Numerous different expenses can pile up while the estate is being probated by the court, and these expenditures reduce the amount of the inheritances that the heirs will receive.
A third drawback would be the loss of privacy. Since probate is a public proceeding, anyone who wanted to find out how you transferred your assets could access probate records to obtain this information.
There are things that can be done to facilitate asset transfers outside of probate to avoid these drawbacks. One commonly used probate avoidance tool is the revocable living trust. Assets in this type of trust could be distributed to the beneficiaries outside of probate.
This is one option, but there are other possibilities.
Our firm can help if you would like to learn more about probate and probate avoidance. We offer no obligation consultations, and you can contact us through this page to set up an appointment: Smithtown Long Island Estate Planning Attorneys.