Avoiding Probate – Some Factors to Consider

There are Five Big Lessons to Think About in Avoiding Probate in Kansas City.  As you know, there are some serious benefits in avoiding probate – reducing the legal expense of the probate process and the time delay in transferring assets.  However, there are some additional things to consider when you go about avoiding probate.  Here are the top five things to think about if avoiding probate.

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Leawood estate planning attorneys


Should You Avoid Probate? Here are Five Factors to Think About

Should I avoid probate? This is a question almost every estate planning client will inevitably ask, while some may even name avoidance of probate as a primary estate planning goal.

From a legal perspective, probate is the process of clearing title to certain property when someone dies, so that ownership can be transferred to those who are receiving the inheritance.

Attempting to avoid probate can take time and energy, so it’s important that you analyze whether this is a worthy goal for your clients, and determine when it’s appropriate for them to do so. Here are some factors to consider:

Reducing Costs: Avoiding probate can save money. Generally, the costs associated with probate include attorney fees, filing fees and compensation for personal representatives (also known as executors). Certain states, including California, Florida and New York, impose fees and/or costs based upon the value of the assets subject to probate. (The greater the amount of the assets, the greater the costs.)

However, in other states, such as Massachusetts, filing fees are based upon the types of paperwork the court requires. If no assets are subject to probate, these costs, which can easily be in the thousands of dollars, can be reduced or eliminated. It’s important to understand, however, that avoiding probate does not mean that attorneys and other advisors are unnecessary when someone dies. It simply means that certain court-imposed costs can be avoided.

Reducing Complexity: Many clients will say that their primary estate planning goal is to simplify things for their family members when they die. In other words, they would prefer to minimize the expenses and aggravation for their families to the greatest extent possible. If clients express this desire, make sure they know that avoiding probate can decrease the time for certain assets to become available for heirs, lessen the steps necessary to transfer ownership of those assets and, therefore, reduce the costs associated with settling an estate.

Increasing Privacy: Generally speaking, most paperwork filed with a court is public record, meaning that anyone can see a copy of a client’s will, as well as information about the value of assets subject to probate. In addition, the probate process requires notice to all persons deemed to be interested parties under state law. Therefore, if a client wishes to disinherit certain relatives, or desires to keep private how his or her estate should be distributed, then avoiding probate helps achieve these goals. While most of our clients may not face the level of scrutiny that, say, the wills of deceased celebrities encounter, in today’s world, privacy is still a major concern.

Avoiding a Will Contest: Many of us have clients who want to disinherit certain relatives. If this is the case, make sure your client knows that avoiding probate can reduce the likelihood that an estate plan is contested. While probating a will requires court-ordered notices, transferring assets through a trust or by beneficiary designation does not come with similar requirements. In addition, depending upon the state, the way to challenge these non-probate dispositions of property may differ and prove to be more difficult.

Accepting Paperwork: Avoiding probate comes with an administrative burden. Ownership of accounts may need to be changed, beneficiaries updated and real estate conveyed through the use of deeds. All these tasks require time and energy, and may have fees associated with them. Many clients find this administrative burden both time-consuming and overwhelming. Fortunately, financial advisors can help ease these burdens and guide clients though this paperwork, often quarterbacking the process and ensuring all goals are completed.

Estate Planning Lawyers in Leawood

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The Eastman Law Firm
4901 W. 136th Street, Ste.240, Leawood
United States

Phone: (913) 908-9113

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