How to Avoid Probate & Why You Should

Probate court proceedings are known for being notoriously long, complicated, and expensive. The probate process typically lasts six to nine months, but it may take longer depending on the complexity of the case. During this time, any assets being appraised by the court cannot be distributed or sold. This includes inheritable financial accounts, so any attorney and court fees will be out-of-pocket payments.

How Does Probate Work?

Following a death, a state executor is appointed by probate court or designated by a legal will. Once probate court has validated a legal will, the property of the deceased is reviewed, inventoried, and appraised. Any remaining taxes and debts will need to be paid off before the assets can be distributed according to the wishes of the deceased. 

Probate assets include:

  • Property
  • Vehicles
  • Financial accounts
  • Real estate

Living Trusts
A revocable living trust is a legal document that allows you to avoid probate for nearly any asset. Once signed, your ownership rights are transferred into the trust, with yourself as the trustee, and upon your death will be distributed to your loved ones. The probate process can be dodged entirely. A living trust will not control your assets, and you can amend or revoke the trust at any time.  Even if you own assets in different states, a living trust is valid so long as the assets are part of the trust. Some assets, including retirement funds and life insurance policies, cannot be held by the trust, and a living trust will not avoid inheritance or estate taxes.

For 24/7 Estate Planning Help, Call Us at (717) 775-7195

While you can create your own revocable living trust and have it notarized for legality, we recommend retaining the services of an attorney to assist in accurately reviewing your assets, especially if you have a complex estate plan. At Scaringi Law, our team of estate planning lawyers is experienced in drafting wills, revocable and irrevocable trusts, and health care and financial powers of attorney. Contact us today at (717) 775-7195 to schedule your initial consultation.

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