Every asset left to a relative by way of a will needs to go through probate proceedings. This means that your relatives will have to weight to receive their inheritances. It also means that your relatives will be subject to time-consuming and often stressful legal proceedings.
However, you have other estate planning options available to you that could render probate entirely unnecessary for certain assets inside your estate plan. Trust planning for example, is an excellent way to revoke your ownership of certain assets so that a revocable living trust is the technical owner and the assets will be passed directly to heirs .
Also, you have certain assets that are already exempt from the probate process, such as life insurance, retirement accounts, jointly-held property and annuities. These assets have beneficiary designations attached to them and they indicate exactly who will receive the money or assets upon your death, without going through probate.
Sometimes, however, probate is seen as a bonus rather than a burden. Many estate planners like the additional state oversight to ensure that their intentions are followed to the letter and to reduce the chances of family disagreements and infighting. The public nature of a traditional estate plan also reduces the chances of fraud on the part of one or more family member -- or on the part of the estate executor.l
Are you ready to look at probate avoidance strategies for your estate plan? Make sure you understand all the options available to you in this regard before choosing the path that's right for you and your family.
Source: Forbes, "7 Big Estate Planning Mistakes," Bob Carlson, accessed March 02, 2018