003 – Should I Attempt to Avoid Probate?
Probate has become a verb – meaning going through the process of reconciling a deceased person’s debts and collecting and distributing his/her debts as they set out in their will (or according to state law if there is no will). This process involves completing many forms such as an inventory and appraisal, providing notice to all heirs, notice to creditors, an accounting of estate receipts and expenditures, and a final proposal for distribution in accordance with the will. Sounds easy enough, right?
Then why do so many professionals who work in the estate planning industry advise you to avoid probate at all costs? We will go into greater detail in just a moment, but here are the main reasons why you may want to consider preparing an estate plan that will allow you to avoid the probate process:
- probate is slow,
- probate can be costly, and
- probate is public.
After hearing these reasons, you may have decided that you do want to avoid probate with your estate plan. We talk about some ways to avoid probate altogether:
- use beneficiaries on retirement accounts, certificates of deposit and other investments,
- work with your bank to find ways to add beneficiaries to your bank accounts or create joint accounts,
- joint tenancy with right of survivorship, and
- a living trust.