Probate is a tedious, expensive, and time-consuming process that can take up to, and sometimes more than, 18 months to complete.. That’s why thinking of ways to avoid probate is a welcome idea. During probate proceedings, the family endures the pain of grieving and putting up with the court process. If you are wondering if it’s possible to avoid probate, yes, it is possible. An experienced family attorney like Heath Baker can help you dodge the probate hassle.
What Is a Probate?
Probate is the process in which the courts scrutinize a will to determine its validity and distribute assets. For intestates (those who die without a will)or invalid wills, probate involves the distribution of assets under state law.
Why Avoid Probate?
Many aspects make probate an unpalatable process, making people look for ways to avoid it. These include as follows:
- It’s expensive. During the probate, beneficiaries have a right to an attorney and executor. The attorney’s fee and that of the courts are deducted from the estate value, which eats into the inheritance.
- Lack of privacy. Probate is a court process, meaning the proceedings are public. Anyone can search the records of the proceedings and get them. That includes personal information, such as the estate value, the beneficiaries, and the allocations.
- Delays. Depending on your county, the probate process can take 12-24 months. If anyone contests the will or some of its provisions, the process can extend beyond 2 years. During this period, the beneficiaries cannot access their share, leaving them to suffer if the estate is their only source of livelihood. Working with a family planning attorney can save your family from this process.
How to Avoid Probate
Thanks to several provisions of family law, you can evade probate. The following are some of those ways:
- Living trust. A living trust allows you to set up a trust and fund it with assets such as accounts, vehicles, or real estate. In a living trust, the writer, known as the grantor, retains the property control until their death. The grantor chooses the successor — the trustee — who will take over the trust. Assets under a living trust are free from probate proceedings. Once the grantor passes on, the trust ownership seamlessly moves to the successor.
- Spousal set aside. The provision avers that if you are married, all your assets will automatically pass to your spouse when you die. The surviving spouse will take over the property if you own individual wills and property.
- California small estate affidavit. The law allows a beneficiary to avoid probate for an estate worth less than $184,500 or a real estate market value of $61,500. The beneficiary can use small estate affidavits to gain control of their inheritance.
- Joint ownership. If you jointly own a property with someone and have the right of survivorship, the surviving member becomes the owner without probate.
Hire an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
The Law Office of Heath L. Baker is devoted to protecting what is important to your family. As seasoned family attorneys, we provide our clients with legal advice in the areas of estate planning and family law to help them avoid probate. Schedule a free consultation with us now and kickstart a journey of keeping your family peaceful even after your unfortunate death.