Probate attorneys at Clarity Legal Group® can provide you with representation during the probate process. Probate typically takes place after someone has passed on. It is the process by which the assets of the deceased person transfer to new owners. As Investopedia explains, it can be a lengthy and costly process, so having an experienced attorney represent you is important.
While the probate process occurs after most deaths, it does not necessarily have to occur every time someone passes away. An estate plan can reduce your exposure to probate and might allow your loved ones to avoid the probate process altogether. The probate process is built around the administration of assets which pass under your Last Will and Testament. While everyone needs a Will (because a Will has several important functions), it is wise to consider planning for your assets to transfer at your death through other means. This is the essence of probate avoidance.
Probate avoidance may mean transferring assets by beneficiary designation, pay-on-death arrangements, or joint ownership. It often involves the use of a living trust. The attorneys at Clarity Legal Group® can help you avoid probate and determine the approach – or combination of approaches – which best serves your assets, family, and interests.
People decide to spare their families from going through probate for a wide variety of reasons. The following are some top reasons you may wish to avoid probate.
Passing an Inheritance More Quickly
The probate process can take months or even years to complete as the court process unfolds. This can be far too long for many heirs or beneficiaries to wait to receive an inheritance. If the deceased person (the decedent) was the family breadwinner, loved ones may be depending upon an inheritance for financial security. If assets transfer through other means such as being jointly owned or because they are held in a trust and pass through trust administration, the process for facilitating the transfer of assets to new owners is much faster. This is also important in circumstances where assets need to be carefully managed by owners and must transfer as quickly as possible after death.
Keeping Your Affairs Private
If assets transfer through the probate process, this means that the court is involved and the transfer of assets in the estate become part of a court record. Many people would prefer that their personal details of their financial affairs are kept private and passing assets through other means like the trust administration process can allow for private financial and family matters to actually be kept private.
Reducing the Chances of Your Wishes Being Contested
When assets are transferred through a last will and testament, there is always a possibility that someone will contest a will and argue that the will should not be probated because it is not an accurate reflection of the wishes of the deceased. Someone who wishes to contest a will will need to prove that there was a problem with the last will and testament, such as the will being made under conditions of fraud or duress.
While successfully contesting a will is challenging, it does happen. If you want to reduce the risk of having your will invalidated and your plans for your legacy derailed, you can use other methods to transfer assets, like a living trust. While a trust could be contested, ongoing involvement with the trust throughout your life makes a successful contest less likely.
Investopedia indicates that the costs of the probate process can be substantial. In North Carolina, Executor’s fees can be up to five percent of the estate, with the fees of attorneys, accountants, appraisers and other professionals on top of this. This substantial cost significantly reduces the value of an inheritance. If you make an estate plan that allows your loved ones to avoid the probate process, it may not completely eliminate your need for professional help, but it will in most cases significantly reduce its cost. With an estate plan, you won’t have to worry as much about probate costs reducing the value of your estate. You can transfer more money on to loved ones. However, it is important to realize that even if assets don’t transfer through the probate process, they could still potentially be part of your taxable estate for estate tax purposes.
Getting Help from Probate Attorneys
The estate planning attorneys at Clarity Legal Group® provide invaluable help in making the right plans to avoid the probate process if you want your loved ones to be able to inherit your assets more quickly or if there are other reasons why you would prefer that probate not take place to transfer your assets after your death.
Nevertheless, the probate attorneys at Clarity Legal Group® are prepared to provide experienced representation to the executor of an estate during the probate process, as well as guidance in the administration of trusts for those who structure their estates to pass by trust. We can help make the probate process as easy and stress-free as possible. Give us a call at 919-484-0012 or contact us online to find out about the assistance that we can offer.
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