What is Probate?
If you don’t know much about estate planning, it’s still likely that you’ve heard the word probate, and that probate is something you absolutely want to avoid.
Probate is essentially the formal legal process under which a deceased person’s estate is distributed.
If you’ve been proactive in your estate planning and you’ve established a trust, the formal probate process can be avoided. However, this isn’t to say that merely creating a trust will be sufficient.
We once spoke with a client who told us that her father had created a trust before he died because they specifically wanted to avoid probate. Upon her father’s death, when she contacted an attorney to ask for help handling the assets that were in her deceased father’s name, the process turned out to be far more complicated than anticipated.
Because many of those assets had not been transferred into the trust and as such, probate proceedings were needed so the assets could be distributed. The payable upon death assets (life insurance) along with the joint bank accounts and jointly held property were able to avoid probate, but a number of other assets that did not have right of survivor ship needed to be handled through the court.
Fact: While establishing a Will is good, it may not help your heirs avoid probate
Although many people assume that if they establish a Will, their heirs will be able to avoid probate proceedings, this isn’t always the case. For example, if the deceased person owns a property that is held in their name alone, the home will likely wind up in probate. Again, it’s always best to speak with an experienced attorney so you can develop a thoughtful, individualized estate plan.
Every estate is different
The estate of John Q. Smith can be vastly different from the estate of Jane Q. Doe and as such, different people will need to have differing estate plans. If you’ve heard that your neighbor down the street is doing X because that’s what was advised by his estate planning attorney, you should know that your estate may benefit from something completely different.
The best thing to do in this type of situation is to speak with a local, reputable estate planning attorney you can trust. Remember, probate can be long, expensive and emotionally taxing; when it comes to your estate, your assets and your property, you’ll want to make sure that your surviving heirs can avoid it.
Contact a Colorado estate planning attorney today
Trying to do your own estate plan can be as stressful as it is time consuming—but you don’t have to do it on your own.
When you work with The Law Network PC you’ll be working with a team of seasoned estate planning attorneys. We can help you understand the pros and cons of establishing different types of trusts and we can also help you understand the tax benefits of each one. If you’re ready to move forward, we’ll be happy to help you get started.
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