The probate process can come into play if you pass away while you are in direct personal possession of property. For example, if you maintain possession of your property up until the time of your death and you execute a will, the will would be admitted to probate after your passing. The property could not be distributed to the heirs until the estate was probated and closed by the court.
This can be frustrating for the rightful heirs because probate is a time-consuming process. If there are no complications at all, it will take close to a year in most areas, and there are complex situations that can take considerably longer.
In addition to the time consumption, there are expenses that accumulate during probate, and this is another drawback. Plus, probate is a public proceeding. As a result, anyone with prying eyes could access probate records to find out how you decided to distribute your resources.
If these probate pitfalls are not to your liking, there are things that you can do to get assets into the hands of your loved ones outside of probate. One very effective probate avoidance tool that is widely utilized is the revocable living trust.
You do not have to be extraordinarily wealthy to create a revocable living trust, and you don’t lose control of assets that you convey into the trust while you are living. As the creator of the trust, you can act as the trustee and the beneficiary throughout your life. Since the trust is revocable, you can actually dissolve the trust entirely at any time, so your control is absolute.
The idea is to facilitate asset transfers after you are gone, so you name a successor trustee to administer the trust after your passing or in the event of your incapacitation. You also name successor beneficiaries, and you leave instructions with regard to the way that you want your assets distributed among the beneficiaries after your passing.
When the time comes, the successor trustee could distribute assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes, and the probate process would not be a factor.
A revocable living trust can be a good choice for many people who want to avoid probate. However, there are other possibilities, including more complicated types of trusts that can satisfy advanced objectives.
We should also point out the fact that life insurance proceeds would be transferred outside of probate, and property held in joint tenancy could also be transferred free of probate.
If you would like to learn more about estate planning, attend one of our upcoming workshops. They are free to attend and attendees qualify for a free consultation.
To see the schedule, click this link: Estero FL Estate Planning Workshops.