In estate planning circles, the word “probate” often comes with a starkly negative connotation. Indeed, for many people — especially those with larger estates — financial planners recommend trying to keep property out of probate whenever possible. That being said, the probate system was ultimately established to protect the property of the deceased and his/her heirs, and in a few cases it may even work to an advantage. Let’s look briefly at the pros and cons of going through probate.
For some estates, especially those in which no will was left, the system works to make sure all assets are distributed according to state law. Here are some potential advantages of probating an estate:
While probate is intended to work fairly to facilitate the transfer of property after someone dies, consider bypassing the process for these reasons:
Bottom line: While probate is a default mechanism that ultimately works to enforce fair distribution of even small estates, it can create undue cost and delays. For that reason, many people prefer to use strategies to keep their property out of probate when they die.
Also, it is important to remember that a Will does nothing to help you in the event of incapacity nor does it protect your assets from high medical costs or creditors’ claims. While you are alive, you may need other documents — health care proxy, power of attorney and/or asset protection trust, in order to help with management of your person and your property. Where these documents are not in place, incapacity can be a total catastrophe for the whole family.
A skilled estate planning attorney can develop a strategy that is right for your situation and make life easier for the next generation. For more information about your options, contact us today to schedule a consultation.