What's Probate and Why Should You Avoid It?

Probate is the court process for distributing assets to the beneficiaries of the diseased. It's expensive, and often unnecessary.

Probate is the legal process that the courts use to implement a will. Probate typically takes six months to three years to complete. It may also require the service of a lawyer. Even if you die without a will your estate must still pass through the probate system. In that case, the court will decide how to distribute your estate among your relatives. The typical probate procedure includes the following steps:

  1. The will is filed with the local probate court (and becomes public record).
  2. Your family conducts an inventory of your property.
  3. Your property is appraised.
  4. All debts, including death taxes, are paid.
  5. The court validates the will.
  6. Court costs, attorney's fees and executor's fees are paid from the estate.
  7. Then, and only then, the remainder of the estate is distributed to your loved ones.

A living trust can help avoid probate. The reason for this is because your assets are placed into a trust, you do not "own" the assets, the trust does. You can still control the trust assets as if they were your own, but when you die, you do not "own" the trust property and therefore, you avoid probate for the assets placed into the trust.

However, as previously mentioned, you will still need a simple will for any property not included in the trust. So long as all of your significant property is transferred into the living trust, then probating this pour-over will should be a rather simple process.

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