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Probate is the court-supervised process through which a deceased person’s financial affairs are resolved. The personal representative collects all of the assets of the deceased person, pays all of the valid debts and expenses, and distributes the remainder to the beneficiaries of the deceased (usually named in the Will). Probate is not necessarily always costly, time-consuming, and stressful; however, sometimes even the simplest probate estates can cause undue financial and emotional pressure for the heirs after the death of a loved one.
Fortunately, probate can be easily avoided and the burden on heirs can be reduced. Probate is only required when there are assets of the deceased person subject to probate. In several situations, it is possible to avoid probate through careful planning and asset titling.
For single clients, transferring all of his or her non-retirement assets into a legal entity called a revocable living trust can avoid probate after the client’s death while ensuring that the client remains fully in control until his or her death or disability.
For married couples, the careful titling of their assets as joint with the right of survivorship or making the assets payable on death to the surviving spouse can avoid a probate at the first spouse’s death. The use of a joint revocable living trust can also avoid probate at the second spouse’s death.
In your estate planning conference, we will review your assets and make recommendations that may allow you to reduce the expenses, delays, and the burden on your heirs.