Probate is the legal process through which the court sees that, when you die, your debts are paid and your assets are distributed according to your will. If you don’t have a valid will, your assets are distributed according to state intestacy law.
Our experienced law firm provides a wide variety of probate services, including probate administration and probate litigation services, including:
• Drafting of Wills & Managing Probate Matters
• Probate Litigation
• Breach of fiduciary duty claims
• Breach of Buy/Sell agreements & Business and Asset Valuation disputes
• Undue influence claims
• Guardianship issues, including Rogers guardianships
• Actions taken by agents under powers of attorney
What’s so problematic about probate?
It can be expensive. Legal/executor fees and other costs must be paid before your assets can be fully distributed to your heirs. If you own property in other states, your family could face multiple probates, each one according to the laws in that state. Be sure to get an estimate, because these costs can vary widely. Click here to review the typical Probate Costs for varying estates.
It takes time, usually 9 months to 2 years, but often longer. During part of this time, assets are usually frozen so accurate inventory can be taken. Nothing can be distributed or sold without court and/or executor approval. If your family needs money to live on, they must request a living allowance, which may be denied.
Your family has no privacy. Probate is a public process, so any “interested party” can see what you owned and who you owed. The process “invites” disgruntled heirs to contest your will and can expose your family to unscrupulous solicitors.
Your family has no control. The probate process determines how much it will costs, how long it will take, and what information is made public.
There are two main ways to avoid the expensive, public and time consuming process of probate, which are described below:
1. Before You Die or Become Incapacitated Create a Trust
Trusts are a very cost-effective tool, which preserve privacy and eliminate or at least lessen the need for probate. Generally, by using a trust, a person can prevent their assets from going through probate or at least lessen how much property must go through probate, which can significantly reduce time and costs associated with the probate process. Also, trusts preserve your family’s privacy, because a trust is a private matter and the administration of the trust does not go through the courts or on public record of any sort.
2. Properly Fund Your Trust
However, a trust cannot be administered if it is not properly funded when the Settlor dies. Attorneys and financial advisors will provide guidance to ensure that your trust is properly funded, because any assets not a part of your trust upon your death must go through an expensive probate.
The experienced attorneys at PMA LAW are happy to answer any of your questions regarding your estate planning needs. Please contact us today to set up a confidential consultation. We look forward to working with you.
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