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Why & How You Might Want to Avoid Probate

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Probate is the court-supervised legal and financial process that occurs after the death of a person. It is the judicial process by which a will is proved valid or invalid. The probate process can be exhausting, stressful, and lengthy.

Here are some compelling reasons to avoid probate.

Probate Can Create Financial Hardship

When an estate undergoes probate, the deceased person’s relatives may have to wait for weeks, months, or even years to access their inheritance. During this time, they may have out-of-pocket expenses. The court may even bar them from accessing the funds in the estate owner’s bank account.

The person’s dependents will have to keep paying property insurance premiums and property taxes. These expenses could increase their financial strain. Financial problems can take a toll on a person’s physical and mental health, affecting their quality of life.

If you have a non-working spouse, it may become a struggle to meet even everyday costs such as groceries, healthcare, and rent.

Probate Can Be Expensive

Even the most simple and uncomplicated probate proceeding can take weeks or even months. If there are complications or claims against the estate, the process can take much longer.

An estate owner’s dependents will have to pay their attorney’s fees during the probate period. The court will take a portion of the gross estate as fees (can be up to 10% of the estate) even before the probate debts are paid as fees.

It is a Public Process

Probate is a public proceeding. All details about a deceased person’s estate (including beneficiaries, assets, liabilities, and representatives) are placed in the public domain. Anyone can access a deceased person’s probate court file. All they have to do is ask for it.

How to Avoid Probate

With careful planning, you can avoid probate. Once your probate lawyer in Santa Rosa develops an in-depth understanding of your needs, they will create a strategy. Here are some tips to avoid probate:

  • Establish joint ownership for real estate (jointly-owned real estate avoids probate)
  • Create a living trust
  • Consider converting your bank and retirement accounts to payable-on-death accounts
  • Give away property while you are alive
  • Speak to a probate lawyer in Santa Rosa about how to title your property so probate isn’t required to transfer ownership

Johnston Thomas Law is a team of skilled attorneys. Our legal professionals bring decades of experience to the table. We will come up with an estate plan strategy to protect your wealth and reduce estate taxes. To consult with our attorneys, call (707) 545-6542.

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