Many people hear the term “probate” when taking the time to plan their estate, but they usually aren’t quite sure what the term really means. It can be confusing to understand the probate process, as well as how probate planning fits in with your estate planning. Did you know that probate can be avoided?
Did you know…?
- If you have no estate plan or a simple plan (only a will) and you own assets in your individual name, your affairs will be handled through probate court when you die.
- If you have a will, it’s validated and used to determine how your assets will be distributed, who will handle your affairs, and who will care for your minor children.
- Without a will, the court will appoint a guardian for your children and an administrator to handle your affairs. Additionally, your state laws (i.e. NY) will determine how your assets are distributed to beneficiaries.
- The probate process can take several months, to over a year. Since probate takes a long time, your beneficiaries will not receive their assets for a significant time period. This is why many people plan to avoid probate.
- If your affairs are handled through probate, your personal financial information, as well as your beneficiary contact information will be made public. This is because probate records are public records which anyone can access. If you don’t want others to learn about your financial affairs or private matters, you may want to avoid probate.
- Probate is expensive. The legal, executor, accounting, and court fees can quickly add up. Additionally, if you own assets in more than one state, you will have ancillary probate in that state as well.
- There are many ways to avoid probate. You can discuss each option with your estate attorney.
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