Probate is the way that your estate is “wrapped up” after your death. It can be a long, complicated, inconvenient, and expensive process for many families.
The major steps of the probate process include:
1. Filing a petition and gathering information
2. Publishing notice to creditors
3. Asset inventory and appraisal
4. Payment of debts, claims, and taxes
5. Final distribution and closing of estate
Probate administration can take at least one year or more to complete, and for some estates, it can take many years. During this time, assets may be unavailable to the intended beneficiaries, and much legal expense is incurred. Probate expenses can be as much as 7% of a decedent’s estate.
Wouldn’t you rather have your intended beneficiaries have the property you left them right away, without paying these unnecessary expenses?
In addition, probate proceedings are open to the public. Anyone can obtain your probate file and access confidential information about your financial affairs, and your beneficiaries. Additional probate proceedings must take place in other states, as well, should the decedent own real estate in another state at the time of death. This means that legal counsel will need to be retained in these states, resulting in further expenses.
Your visit with our elder law attorney in Belleville, Illinois, our elder law attorney in St. Louis, Missouri, or anywhere in the Metroeast, can help protect you and your family. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with our experienced elder law attorney.
Probate can be avoided by creating and funding a living trust during your lifetime. After the trust is created, you title your assets in the name of the trust. All assets held in trust name at your death will avoid probate.
The instructions that you set forth in the trust will govern how your assets are managed and/or disbursed in the case of your incapacity or death. Should you become incapacitated prior to your death, the named successor trustee will manage the trust assets as set forth in the trust document. You also can revoke or change the trust at any time prior to your death or incapacity.
Using a living trust protects you from probate, protects you and your family in case of your incapacity, remains a private affair vs. being a matter of public record, and in some cases, can assist you in minimizing or eliminating estate tax.
Beneficiary designations and certain forms of ownership can also avoid probate. However, using these techniques should be carefully considered. Use of these techniques can leave assets subject to unnecessary creditor attack and other risks.
Call us for a free consultation to learn more about how you can avoid probate, and pass your assets efficiently to your intended beneficiaries.