Did you know that your assets may go through the probate process once you pass away? Unless you transfer your assets to your heirs through a living trust, pay-on-death accounts, gifts or joint ownership, much of your estate may go through probate before distribution.
Avoiding probate may be the best thing you can do for yourself, your loved ones and your estate. Here are some important facts about probate you should know.
1. It is expensive
Probate can cost a lot. The court takes a portion of your estate value to cover fees. This can significantly cut into the wealth your beneficiaries get to enjoy. By eliminating the need for probate, you can remove these expenses and avoid extra complexity in distributing your estate to your heirs.
2. There is a lot of red tape
Another reason to steer clear of probate is because it can take a lot of time. The courts control the process, meaning it is prone to legal red tape. This may make the process drag on, which may be frustrating for your heirs. Probate can take anywhere from a few months to several years. If you give heirs their assets through a trust, beneficiary designation or simply as gifts before you die, you can help them save time.
3. Your privacy is at stake
As if being time-consuming and costly was not enough, probate is also a very public process. Because the courts handle probate, the documents become public record. This means the details of your assets, debts and distributions are made public for anyone to look up. Avoid probate to keep your family information private.
Learning the facts about probate is crucial to planning your estate effectively. If this information is alarming to you, you should take action to make sure you avoid as much of the probate process as possible. An estate planning attorney can help you devise a strategy for avoiding probate.