Probate is the legal process of transferring property from your estate to another party following your death. Laws associated with probate have changed over the years. They continue to change. This is why attorneys generally advise you to review your estate plan at least during major life changes.
Probate is a time-intensive, court-supervised program. The program helps figure out which beneficiaries are receiving which assets, and it helps resolve the estate. Property in the estate with no designated owner will have to go through probate, where a judge will determine the appropriate heir.
It is best to try to avoid probate if you can. How can you do that? There are three main ways:
- Having joint ownership of assets
- Using gifts
- Using revocable or irrevocable trusts
One of the main reasons to avoid probate is because the process can be lengthy. Sometimes, probate will take a matter of months. Other times, it can take years to resolve the issues that come up.
Probate is also costly. The longer it takes to resolve issues with the estate, the less likely heirs will be to receive the assets they were intended to receive. When considering all of these risks, it’s clear why people typically do their best to avoid probate.
If you are setting up your estate plan now, your attorney can talk to you more about how you can work to avoid probate following your death. Probate is a lengthy, costly process, so your loved ones will thank you for thinking and planning ahead so that they don’t have to go through it.