Can You Avoid Probate?

What Is Probate and Why Do You Want to Avoid It?

There’s no doubt that the process of losing someone you love is hard. Even if your loved ones don’t want to think about it while they grieve, there are legal processes involved with distributing your assets when you die. Those processes can often make an emotionally challenging situation even harder.

The good news is you can protect your loved ones from some of the hassles when you plan ahead. If you don’t want to make it harder for your loved ones when you die, then an estate plan is the way to steer clear of troublesome issues, including probate proceedings. 

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process for distributing your assets to your heirs when you die. With an estate plan, including a will or trust, your heirs can avoid some time-consuming, costly hassles associated with probate court intervention. 

With an estate plan, your executor or attorney submits your documentation to the courts for validation, and then they authorize the distribution of your estate to your beneficiaries. Without a will or trust, the courts will decide how your estate will be divided among your heirs. 

Why Should You Want to Avoid Probate?

The probate process isn’t complicated per se, but most people want to avoid the time, money and public exposure. If a will is contested, it can take months or years to resolve in court. The costs associated vary, but the expense can add up, particularly if the process takes a long time. Plus, the results of the proceedings become part of the public record, so what your heirs inherit will no longer be a private matter.

How Do You Avoid Probate?

The short answer: Have an estate plan. Have a will and/or trust that makes your wishes clear and doesn’t place the burden on your loved one. Here are a few ways to avoid probate:

Living Trust

A trust is a legal tool used to hold the title to your assets and privately distribute those assets after your death. While the purpose of wills and trusts is to transfer your estate to your heirs, only a trust allows your loved ones to bypass probate court entirely. 

Learn more: 5 Estate Planning Must-Haves

Give While You Live

You don’t have to wait until you die to share your assets with loved ones. You may find joy in sharing these things before you die. While all of your assets can’t necessarily be shared while you live, if you bequeath a treasured collection, valuable artwork, or family heirlooms while you live, why not? 

Simplify Your Estate

Some states, including Kentucky, offer a simplified probate process for small estates. This involves the court authorizing your executor to distribute assets without enduring regular probate. “Small estate” doesn’t always mean as small as you think. It’s worth knowing your state’s laws.

Joint Ownership

You can make your spouse—or anyone for that matter—-a joint owner so assets automatically transfer ownership upon death. 

Mattingly Ford Asset & Estate Planning

Our estate planning attorneys can help you understand your options and make it easy to get the legal documentation you need for added peace of mind. Call us at (502) 814-9860 or contact us online.