The Best Place To Start Is With A Will
A will is the starting point of most estate plans. A will does not avoid probate, it only provides instructions as to how your estate will be distributed. A will contains your instruction and direction of how the assets which are titled in your name are to be distributed to your heirs. It can range from very straightforward to quite complex.
However, prior to distribution, the will has to go through the probate process of the state. In some situations, where the property is located in another state, multiple probates will occur. At Orsatti & Associates, P.A., our attorney will help you understand this process and help you complete all necessary steps.
Probate Can Take Time
Multiple probates can turn out to be expensive due to the court costs, legal fees, and additional executor fees. The probate process can range anywhere from a year to several years. Additionally, the files related to probate are open and available to the public. This acts as an open invitation for left-out heirs to come and make a claim against the estate, which can further delay the probate process.
Not all assets are required to go through the state probate process. Assets that let you name a beneficiary such as life insurance, annuities, 401k and IRA retirement plans generally automatically transfer to your beneficiary upon your death without the need for probate. While property that is jointly owned can usually bypass probate, unless the beneficiary is not validly named and will require the property to go through probate.
Do You Need A Trust?
The trust is a better instrument for avoiding probate and favored for estate planning. A revocable living trust can steer clear of probate even in situations where multiple probates might be required. Additionally, unlike a will, a trust can live on long after your death, and offers privacy from the public.
Properly planned, your assets can remain in your trust and be managed by the trustee or trustees that you may have appointed. Although a living trust is more expensive than a will to create, the future headaches and expenses it can save is a deal.