Should You Try to Avoid Probate?
With over $2 billion being spent in probate each year, more and more people are starting to wonder if probate is right for them. Probate is a lengthy process that involves validating a person’s will and paying taxes on their estate. Though probate has some benefits, it is usually better to avoid probate whenever possible.
Probate Can Be Expensive
Of course, one of the biggest probate disadvantages is that it is very pricey. Even if your beneficiaries aren’t hiring estate planning litigation lawyers to contest the will, they might still need a lawyer to represent them in court. Furthermore, there can be many other types of taxes and legal fees associated with probate. You may need to pay for filing fees with the court, appraisal fees for various types of property, and fees for any personal representatives.
Another expense of probate comes from the fact that any debtors of your estate can request payment during probate. This means that the items you might want to leave your loved ones could end up being seized to pay your debts. A particularly concerning problem is that there is a time limit on how long before your debtors have to be paid. An item sold in a rush during probate might sell for far below its true value. This can mean your beneficiaries end up with even less.
Avoiding Probate Saves You Time
On average, probating a will can take anywhere from six months to two years. This can add a lot of stress and inconvenience. Your beneficiaries may have to go back and forth between their hometown and yours, and they might need to take time off work for various hearings and discussions. When they are most likely struggling to come to terms with your death, the last thing they will want to do is handle the delays and hassle of probate.
If your beneficiaries need funds as soon as possible, waiting for the will to get through probate can also be extremely problematic. For example, if you left your child with money to go to school, probate could cause a huge gap in their tuition payments, ultimately requiring them to leave school for a semester. Waiting for money from probate could make it hard for some beneficiaries to handle housing and other essentials. When you want to make sure your loved ones are taken care of as soon as possible, skipping probate is a good idea.
You Get More Privacy When You Skip Probate
A final reason to avoid probate is for privacy. All probate proceedings are publicly recorded, and anyone can look them up later on. This can be a huge disadvantage for people who value privacy. It can allow strangers to learn about you and your beneficiaries’ finances. You may find that estate liquidators, insurance agents, and other salespeople reach out after learning about the value of the estate.
The lack of privacy during probate can also cause distress among your beneficiaries. In families with tense relations, it can be better for everyone to not know your New Jersey estate planning decisions. Probate can potentially end up causing a lot of arguments when your heirs see what everyone else got from your will.
How to Avoid Probate
If you want to skip probate, you will need to be extremely careful with your estate planning. Consulting with an estate planning litigation lawyer can give you all sorts of helpful strategies for avoiding probate. Using items like revocable living trusts, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts can allow you to transfer assets without going through probate. You can also set up joint tenancy ownership for real estate so that the title automatically transfers to the other owner on your death. Using these methods to transfer assets can ensure your remaining property has a low enough value to skip probate court.
If you live in Hackensack, New Jersey, or the surrounding areas, The Knee Law Firm is here to help with your estate planning. We can assist you with finding strategies that help to give your loved ones assets without having to deal with the hassle and expense of probate. Our team works hard to ensure your wishes are respected following death. To learn more about our estate planning techniques, call (201) 996-1200 or fill out our contact form.