One of the main functions of the probate court is to distribute assets of a person who has passed away. Unfortunately, the probate process can be time-consuming and expensive. The proceedings in probate court are a matter of public record, compromising the privacy of the deceased. With some planning, you can avoid probate altogether and save your family the time, expense and hassle of going through probate.
What Estate Planning Tools Avoid Probate?
Every individual’s situation is unique and it is important you contact an estate planning attorney who can assess your individual situation and give you the best advice for your needs. However, estate planning attorneys generally use many of the same tools in helping clients avoid probate. Some common examples include:
Joint Ownership: If you have a joint tenancy, most commonly between a husband and wife, and one person dies, the title will automatically be in the name of the survivor without the need for probate.
Beneficiary Designation: Some types of assets allow you to choose a beneficiary to receive the assets at the time of your death. Common examples include life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and bank accounts.
Trusts: Your lawyer can help you establish a trust to avoid probate. In these cases, the trust holds your assets and you set the terms of the trust, which control how and when your assets will be distributed. Anything held and controlled by a trust will not go to probate.
It is critical to note: Wills do not avoid probate. A will does not carry any binding legal authority until after the maker has died and the will is delivered to the probate court. A will may still be necessary for some other purposes, such as designating a guardian for minor children, but it is not effective in keeping assets out of probate.
Call Today to Schedule a Consultation
If you have not yet taken the time to plan for how your estate will be handled after your death, call the Law Offices of Kenneth P. Carp today. The skilled probate attorneys at our firm have the experience necessary to evaluate your situation and develop a plan so that your assets are distributed exactly according to your wishes and your family can be spared the time, stress and expense of probate. Call (636) 947-3600 today to schedule your consultation.