After creating a good estate plan which will serve as a template for how you wish your assets to be distributed or transferred to named beneficiaries, it would sad to see that a long, painful probate process would be required before your wishes are implemented. At this point, there is little you can do to speed things up or prevent the process. Probate is always carried out in a surrogate court where estate plan documents usually last Wills are properly examined to see if fit and appropriate to be implemented. The process can be time consuming and families can be kept off there deceased asset or estate properties for months until the probate process is concluded. With probate lawyers, decedent’s asset beneficiaries and other present at the court processes, only the judge can rule the document as fit or unfit, however, only after careful considerations.
What determines the length of a probate?
The process and activities involved in probating a will is in itself long. Even more difficult, the probate court has to be informed on any progress made until final nod is given to implement the plans.
Here is an insight into what a probate process looks like:
- Appointing a personal representative or executor to initiate a probate proceeding in the court.
- Locating the decadent’s estate and other asset properties.
- Determining the date of death values of the decedent assets.
- Identifying the decedent creditors and notifying them of this death. This is required before the estate plan can be implemented.
- Payment of the decedent’s death. This may include tax incurred on estate as well as other accountable debts incurred during the probate process.
- Preparing and filling taxes returns on the deceased properties.
- After the above process, the court can then give a nod to the personal representative to distribute the decedent’s estate as stated in the Will.
These processes itself is time consuming; however, probate can be further elongated when certain things are not properly done. Here a factors that further influence or cause delayed probate;
- Wrong details supplied in the Will.
- Decedent have assets in several states.
- Dispute among beneficiaries. The beneficiaries named by the decedent do not agree to the Will statement and would rather petition the court further to determine its authenticity.
How can you avoid probate?
If you need to prevent probate, take note of the following points.
Prepare a Living trust other than a Living trust.
You should know by now that a Last Will always go through court probate processes before it can be implemented. This is because the maker of Will is no longer alive to defend the statement in the Will. Usually, a personal representative is appointed by the decedent to oversee the process of authenticating the Will. To prevent these issues you should set up a living trust. A living trust is a document created during the lifetime of a property owner but covers for when he alive and well, incapacitated and lastly dead. The document protects your assets, prevent unnecessary probate process and also allows you say how you want your assets shared
Place your asset into the Trust.
It is not enough to just create a trust document. Typically, once the document is created, it goes into implementation so far you have your assets placed into the trust. A living trust provides an agreement between a trust maker, a trustee and a named beneficiary. With a trust document you as the trust maker or grantor can transfer assets to your desired beneficiary. Without placing the assets into the trust, the usual process of probate would still be repeated.
Always name a beneficiary on your bank, investment and retirement accounts.
Although naming someone seem easy and simple, many people don’t take the time to actually name a desired beneficiary or beneficiaries on their bank accounts, investments and retirement plans. If you have name of your beneficiaries on these assets, there won’t be need for probate. Payable on death accounts include life insurance policies, pension plans, 401K plans, IRA accounts, stocks and bonds. These assets can all go to beneficiaries you have named without probate. Naming a beneficiary to assets such as retirement account IRA, 401(k), means you already avoided probate.
Lastly, if you find yourself in situation where probate is likely to occur, contact a probate attorney.