These estate planning steps can help you avoid the cost and expense of the probate process and lessen the burden on your loved ones.
When a person passes away, their assets and property may have to go through probate. Probate is the legal process of distributing your assets to designated beneficiaries. This process also includes verifying a will (if there is one) and paying any outstanding debts or taxes left by the deceased.
But the probate process can be lengthy and expensive, lasting for several months or years. This article explains the advantages of avoiding probate, and estate planning steps you can take to do so.
The probate process is well-defined by state laws, but many people seek to avoid it for several reasons:
Differences in state probate laws can lead to variations in the overall process and cost of probate depending on what state you’re in. In some states, probate laws may set limitations on the cost of probate court and attorney’s fees.
State probate laws will also dictate when you can avoid probate entirely. If your estate is below a certain value, state probate laws may allow you to avoid probate altogether or to use a simplified version of the process. States like New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina all have different requirements for when probate can be avoided or shortened.
Fortunately, there are various estate planning tools you can use to keep your assets and property out of probate:
Now let’s look at each of these a bit more in-depth.
The complexity of the probate process can differ case by case. A smaller estate may not even require probate, while a larger estate can lead to complex court proceedings. In either scenario, taking some of these estate planning steps can help minimize the time and money devoted to probate proceedings, which in turn lessens the burden of probate on friends and family.