In certain cases, probate can be avoided with diligent planning. However, probate doesn’t have to be a frightening procedure.
Probate seems like a difficult and pricey procedure. However, the official transfer of some assets from the decedent to his or her heirs or beneficiaries must be accomplished through the legal process known as probate, which is really rather widespread. Depending on the type of property, how it is owned, and the state rules, probate may or may not be required.
What does probate mean?
Assets are lawfully transferred through the probate process. The probate process might be difficult for enormously big estates. But for the majority of individuals, it’s just a small formality.
Whether a final will exists or not, probate is ultimately merely a court approving the transfer of assets.
When does probate apply?
The majority of people believe that probate involves a will. When someone passes away and leaves a will, probate is necessary to carry out its instructions.
However, if a person passes away without leaving a will and owns property that must be divided in accordance with the state’s intestacy law (the law of inheritance), a probate procedure may also take place. Accounts that had beneficiaries named on them (such as retirement accounts) that were owned by the decedent must go through probate court procedure in order for the funds to be transferred to the person who is legally entitled to them under state law.
Can’t you skip probate?
Some people are opposed to will probate. However, if the deceased held property that was not deliberately set up to avoid probate, there is no way for the beneficiaries to acquire legal possession without it. A will or property are not need to go through probate. To this, there are several exceptions. If the family continues to pay taxes on the property and does not sell it, Florida law permits them to own it in the deceased person’s name.
What is a small estate probate process?
The majority of states are aware that a thorough probate procedure may be costly and time-consuming. As a result, modest estates are frequently qualified for a streamlined procedure that typically does not require the services of a probate attorney.
In West Virginia, for instance, a small estate probate procedure is employed if the decedent’s estate is under $100,000. These processes make probate court accessible to the majority of families and promote the writing of wills.
How to avoid probate
- With good planning, probate may be completely avoided. Some people find this advantageous since doing so can help them avoid paying inheritance taxes, which can significantly lower the value of an extremely affluent estate. Since some of the information might not be accessible to the public, avoiding probate might also safeguard privacy.
- A revocable living trust is one of the most often used methods of avoiding probate. Although assets are placed in the trust, the trust’s founder is permitted to use them while still alive. By operation of the trust agreement, assets held in the trust are transferred to the trust beneficiaries upon death. Probate is not required.
- Insurance proceeds are transferred without going through probate. Your life insurance policy’s beneficiary will get the death benefit directly, without going through the probate court system.
- Some retirement assets may pass without going through probate. When an account owner passes away, they choose a beneficiary, who subsequently inherits the account’s remaining funds. Accounts that are payable on death function similarly.
- Real estate that is held as joint tenants or as joint tenants in whole also passes without going through probate. There are two proprietors of this kind of land. The second owner automatically becomes the property’s owner upon the death of the first.
Whether or not a will was written, most families will interact with a probate court at some point, but the procedure is usually straightforward and affordable.