Probate is the judicial process of administering a person’s financial affairs after they have died. Typically, probate involves submitting a deceased individual’s Will to the court and the appointment of a Personal Representative who is responsible for gathering the decedent’s assets, paying the creditors of the estate, filing any necessary tax returns and distributing the decedent’s property in accordance with the decedent’s Will.
The problem is that often probate court proceedings can be lengthy, costly and the proceedings are public record. However, there are ways to avoid the probate process.
One of the most popular ways to avoid probate is to set up a living trust. A living trust, or revocable trust, is set up during your lifetime. It is an estate-planning tool where assets that are placed in the trust are no longer part of your estate. The trust is a separate legal entity which controls how the trust assets are to be distributed. The person who set up a trust can also be the Trustee. The Trustee is responsible for administrating the trust in accordance with its terms. Trusts can also manage the original trustee’s assets for their benefit during their lifetime if they become incapacitated or can no longer manage their affairs.
Other probate avoidance and estate planning tools are owning property with joint ownership with right of survivorship, executing beneficiary deeds life insurance policies, etc.
It is important to consult with an experienced lawyer to determine which estate-planning options are best for you. Using the services of someone not trained in estate planning can end up costing more money to fix problems.
At Owens & Perkins, we understand the importance of family and the benefits of clearly documenting wishes. When you clearly state your wishes, it will make life much easier for your family when you are no longer here for them. We have experienced attorneys that will be able to help you plan out your wishes upon your passing as well as probate matters.
Contact Owens & Perkins for a complimentary ½ hour consultation at (480) 630-2464.