If you have never consulted with an estate planning attorney, you may assume that a last will is by far the simplest and most efficient estate planning solution. In fact, this is not necessarily the case because of the process of probate.
When you use a last will to facilitate the transfer of your monetary assets, you name an executor to administer the estate. The executor does not immediately start writing checks after you pass away. He or she must admit the last will to the probate court.
During probate, the court will supervise the administration of the estate. This can be a time-consuming process, and the heirs to the estate do not receive their inheritances until after the process has run its course.
The exact duration of the probate process will depend on the circumstances in question. There are complicated cases that can be stalled in probate for years. Sometimes there are challenges to the last will that can slow things down. The liquidation of property can be time-consuming as well.
In most jurisdictions, a simple and routine case will pass through probate in around eight months to a year.
When you are leaving your loved ones inheritances you probably do not want them to wait around for a year as your property is stuck in limbo. This would be true under any circumstances, but there are cases when hardships can result, because inheritors were relying on the decedent for support.
You have options when you are planning your estate. It is possible to take legal steps that facilitate probate avoidance.
There are a number of different ways that you can arrange for the transfer of your assets outside of probate. The revocable living trust is a very popular probate avoidance tool.
You do not have to worry about losing control of assets that you place into a revocable living trust. Because it is in fact revocable, you can dissolve the trust and walk away with the assets in your personal possession at any time.
If you create a revocable living trust, you are called the grantor. As the grantor of the revocable living trust you may also act as the trustee and the beneficiary while you are living. You control the actions of the trust, and you can receive monetary distributions from the trust.
When you draw up the trust agreement you name a successor trustee to administer the trust after you die, and you name successor beneficiaries who will receive monetary distributions. When you do in fact pass away, the beneficiaries will receive their inheritances in a timely manner completely outside of the process of probate.
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Parman & Easterday
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