Probate is the process in which a judge examines a will and appoints a personal representative to handle the deceased’s estate affairs. At the end of probate, the judge will validate the will. The personal representative will distribute all the assets to the named beneficiaries and pay off any debts. Probate is sometimes unavoidable, but it isn’t too terrible. Many people believe it is expensive and takes very long, but that isn’t necessarily true. Below is a general overview of the aspects of probate and estate administration.
Personal Representative Duties
The personal representative, or executor, handles the estate regardless if it goes through probate. Many states have made the process easier over the years and it is not necessary to use probate avoidance tactics when planning the estate. They will handle the will past probate and distribute assets, mitigate debts and track down next of kin if necessary. You will need to worry more about making sure the will is clear and won’t be challenged when you pass.
Probate is played up as an expensive process that takes months to complete and often inconveniences the family of the deceased. That is not always true and it is just a simple matter of validation. Some people may opt for a living trust rather than a will because they believe that it will help them avoid probate, however, they may be paying more to plan a trust out than to create a will. Typically a trust is supposed to maintain that the deceased’s financial assets are handed to the correct beneficiaries and are not subject to the probate process.
Living trusts can be a great tool to plan your estate, but that may not even protect you from probate. It can help in the case that you fall ill or sustain a disability, but it will not necessarily prevent your estate from going through probate, especially if you have debt that must be settled.
Although property that is jointly owned or is designated an heir or beneficiary in a living trust will generally avoid probate, you should be aware that the probate laws differ across states. And there is no guarantee that you will avoid a probate process. Thankfully, with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, you will be able to create a coherent will and you should not fear the process. The fee should not be too high either, so all the things you hear from estate planning services is not always truthful.
Hire an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer for Your Future
The probate process has been simplified and made more efficient to eliminate the fears that people have about their estates being taken advantage of. Don’t worry, call an experienced estate attorney in O’Fallon MO to discuss your specific questions about probate and your estate. Thankfully,they can walk you through the process step by step and hopefully alleviate your concerns.
Thank you the authors at Legacy Law Center for providing their insight on estate planning and probates.