When grieving the demise of a loved one, a complex financial and legal procedure is the last thing you would like to handle. But most of the time, that is exactly what happens when the near and dear ones of a deceased need to undergo the probate procedure.
The family members of the decedent need to understand this process as it can keep them away from getting caught by surprises. Many questions need to be answered here.
These include questions like who will be taking charge of the will after a person dies; is there any way to avoid the lengthy probate procedure, and what happens if the person dies intestate. Well, taking up the question of whether a will can be avoided completely, first of all, you must know that avoiding the process can help in saving a huge amount of money.
Second, it speeds up the transfer of the estate assets to the beneficiaries and also preserves the privacy of the family. There are some easy and simple ways of avoiding probate, but before everything else, you need to understand what probate is in reality.
What is Probate, and Is It Smart to Avoid the Process?
Probate is a legal procedure for managing the estate of a deceased. If the deceased has left a testament or a will, the procedure will involve proving the legal validity of the will, executing the instructions of the deceased, and paying off all taxes.
The procedure becomes easy by having a will in place. Following it, the distribution of the assets takes place among the beneficiaries. A will does not just help in specifying who would inherit what but even designates the executor who will be taking care of fulfilling all the instructions in the document.
It is considered a smart move to avoid probate because it has a number of advantages to offer. These include:
- It becomes faster and simpler for the account beneficiaries and heirs to claim funds.
- Avoiding expensive fees along with the fees of the executor is also possible.
- Everything pertaining to the estate asset distribution can be kept secret instead of making them public.
Benefits of Going through Probate
It works to depend on a will for dictating how the assets will be distributed. So, undergoing the probate procedure is beneficial in the following way:
- Will make the intent of the deceased clear. The state laws governing the distribution of assets are very strict and complex. Therefore, it works to have a will that makes way for the communication of the wishes of the person who is no more. And yes, a will even make the backup-plan of a person clear.
- Wills also help individuals in leaving money for organizations like college and charity. There are certain probate-exempt accounts that allow only human beings as the beneficiaries.
- The creditors missing out on the windows for claiming debts might have less recourse in the presence of a will.
The family and financial situation of a person determines whether it would be feasible for him or her to go through the probate procedure or avoid it completely. It is always a good deal to keep as many assets as possible out of the probate process. What individuals need to work on is thinking ahead of time and coming up with their wills.
This way, they will have their wishes communicated, which will further reduce stress and even avoid arguments among the heirs.
How to Avoid it?
Avoiding probate can be very easy, regardless of the reason why you want to avoid the process.
First of all, many states have set exemption levels for the process. There is an expedited procedure in place for the small estates. Hence, individuals need to check the probate estate limits in their state before making the final decision.
Another way of avoiding probate is by giving away everything while a person is still living. Instead of leaving behind the assets for friends and family members after your death, you can give them the things before anything happens to you.
This not only helps in reducing the estate that needs to go through probate but even assists in trimming and eliminating future state and federal estate taxes.
Coming up with a living trust can also help in avoiding probate. That’s because properties of a trust are not part of the estate. Hence, it is not possible to distribute it after the demise of an individual.
Using these ways of avoiding estate is beneficial, but it is always advisable to consult a lawyer serving this field.