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The basics of probate

Often time's people are hesitant when thinking about estate planning. Some feel scared or unsure of how to go about the whole process. However, it is important to plan and to be prepared so your family is well taken care of after you pass on. There are many documents to think about drafting and many other things like taxes, court and probate to consider as well.

Understanding how estate-planning works is one of the first steps you should take. Probate is an important aspect of planning to consider. There are ways to avoid probate. In some cases, taking probate out of the equation can make the transfer of your estate to your heirs much easier and smoother.

What is probate?

Probate is essentially the legal process of transferring your assets onto your living heirs. This process, which typically takes place in court, is used to prove that the will or other documents signed by you are legal and valid.

Sometimes, people assume that their assets automatically go to their spouse or children. This is not always the case. Your family members need to have legal authority in order to have access to your assets.

When is probate required?

It doesn't matter the size of your assets or your estate. If only your name is on the title to your home or your bank account, probate will be enforced. However, if you and your spouse, or successor, have both of your names on the title and both names on your bank account, there would be no need for probate.

If you and your spouse both pass away together, there will almost always be a need for probate to determine the legal heir to your estate even if you have a will.

When is it avoidable?

Probate can be avoided. Typically, families try to avoid this process because it can be costly in terms of court and legal fees and it can be a long process. Here are the most common ways people avoid probate when estate planning:

  • Joint tenancy ownership
  • Pay-on-death designation
  • Living Trust
  • Contractual beneficiaries

Each of these options all have pros and cons. This is why it is important to speak with an experienced estate-planning attorney to determine what the best option is for you and your family. There are many misconceptions about estate planning, which can cost families a lot of time and money in court fees.

There are so many options to choose from and so many things to consider when planning. Seeking counsel from a lawyer can be highly beneficial. They can discuss state laws and regulations and evaluate your estate and assets to determine what the best option is for you and your loved ones. Having someone to guide you through this process can help ease the stress and worry you may have during this time of your life.

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