When you pass on, the last thing you want is for your grieving family to have to deal with the slow, grinding procedures of the law. You would rather the process of inheritance and asset transmission spare your family and friends the headache and frustration that comes with legal proceedings. Unfortunately, that is not always how it works out, especially if you have not initiated some asset protection strategies to prevent your assets from going into probate court upon your death. But there are other reasons to avoid probate court beyond the desire to eliminate stress. Probate court can be expensive, time consuming and is rarely, if ever, beneficial to your family or beneficiaries.
How Does Probate Court Work?
Probate court is designed to oversee the legal process by which your assets are dispensed to beneficiaries upon your death. The process begins when someone, perhaps a family member or whomever is designated in your will to assume the role, files a petition for probate with the probate court. The court then appoints an executor of the estate, often named in the will, who is responsible for administering the final obligations of the estate, including money owed to creditors and filing a final tax return. When the executor has completed organizing and attending to these final obligations, they then distribute the estate assets to the beneficiaries.
Why should I Try to Avoid Probate Court
There are two primary reasons to avoid probate court: time and cost. The process described above can take considerable time to resolve. There are piles of paperwork to fill out and submit. Depending on the size of your estate, creditors are given 60 to 90 days to make claims against the estate assets. If the process runs smoothly and complications are avoided, the resolution of probate proceedings takes about 6 months. During this time, your assets are tied up in the court system and are not available to your loved ones.
Another reason to avoid probate court is the cost that is levied on your assets by court, executor and attorney fees. The court is responsible for approving the rates and ensuring that they are reasonable for the level of work required. Depending on the size of the estate, these fees can take up to 5% of value of the estate. In this scenario, the probate fees on a $500,000 estate would be $25,000.
How Can I Avoid Probate Court
There are a number of ways that you can keep your assets out of probate and have them go directly to your intended beneficiaries when you pass on. One way is to put your assets in a revocable living trust. Assets in a revocable living trust are not subject to the labyrinth of the probate court and will immediately transfer to the trust beneficiaries upon your death. A revocable living trust also affords you the flexibility to make changes and additions to it at any time.
Avoid Probate by Planning Ahead With Kalicki Collier Law Firm
No matter how you choose to protect your assets from the time consuming and costly probate process, planning ahead is essential. The attorneys and legal counsel at Kalicki Collier can provide you the expert advice and estate planning services you need regardless of the size of your estate at a cost below that of the probate court. At Kalicki Collier, our team of experienced attorneys and legal counsel will make it our goal to protect your assets for your loved ones. Contact us today to get started on securing the future for your loved ones.