If you are very familiar with legal terms you should know what probate is. However, if you aren’t, no problem, you’ll find out soon enough.
Probate is a very complex legal process done to determine the validity of a will. The process can be time-consuming, stressful, and pretty expensive.
Because of the complexities surrounding probate, you’ll find most estate owners scrambling to plan an estate that is void of this process. No one wants their assets to be wasted on probate fees, probate attorney fees, etc.
There are many ways to prevent your estate from undergoing probate, and we are about to find out if creating a will is one of them.
Let us take a brief look at what a will is, to better understand if it is key in escaping probate or not.
What is a Will?
A will is a common estate planning document. If someone mentions the word estate planning what comes to our minds is a will. It is very easy to relate a will with estate planning because it plays a significant role in the management and derivation of a decedent’s assets.
So what is a will?
A will is a legal document that contains information on how the testator wants his or her assets to be distributed. It contains the names of their beneficiaries, and the assets they own. For clarity, a will also contains how the testator wants his or her assets to be distributed.
Other information embedded in a will is:
- The name of the estate executor.
- How the testator wants to be buried (burial arrangements).
After the demise of the estate owner, the estate executor submits the will to court for probate. The estate executor is a representative of the deceased and is his or her duty to see that the probate process goes on smoothly.
What is Probate?
If you have no idea of what probate is, here is your chance to. Probate is a very common process which usually begins after the death of an estate owner. This court-supervised process is done to authenticate a last will and testament of a deceased, provided he or she made one.
The probate process includes locating and determining the value of the individual’s assets, settling their final bills and taxes, and sharing the rest of the estate to the designated beneficiaries.
When is probate needed?
Each state has laws in place to determine what is needed to subject an estate to probate. These laws are integrated into the estate’s “probate codes,” including laws for “intestate succession,” when an individual dies without creating a will.
If an individual dies without a will, such a person is said to have died intestate. In that case, probate is still needed to settle the deceased’s final bills and share their assets. The steps involved are the same, irrespective of the presence of a will, and even though laws backing probate are different in each states.
Does a will keep an estate from undergoing probate?
Creating a will wouldn’t stop your estate from undergoing probate. What is the essence of probate in the first place? To determine the validity of a will, right? So, it doesn’t really make sense to assume that a will can keep an estate out of probate as one of purposes of probate is to determine the authenticity of a will.
Creating a will only ensures that your assets are distributed based on your wishes. If you want to escape probate then you will have to set up a trust, hold your property jointly, or name beneficiaries in your retirement or bank account.
Let us take a look at one of the most common ways to escape probate.
How to escape probate
Setting up a living trust is no doubt one of the most common ways to escape probate. A living trust is simply an alternative to a last will. Unlike a will, which hold information regarding how you want your assets to be shared, a living trust places your assets and property “in trust” which are managed by a trustee on behalf of your beneficiaries.
Do you want to create trust to ensure that your estate escapes probate? Contact our office. Our experienced estate planning attorney can help you set up a trust for that purpose.