If there were ever a year to buckle up and learn a little bit about estate planning, this is it. After all, while 2020 is behind us and hope is on the horizon the Covid-19 pandemic has made it amply clear that the future is uncertain and preparedness is the best defense. Estate planning plays a part in this. Not only does having a plan protect your hard-earned assets from avoidable taxes, aggressive creditors, and potential reckless spending by heirs, it also ensures your loved ones are spared the cost and burden of probate court should the unthinkable happen.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the state-run, court-sponsored process of authenticating a person’s last will and testament. It is the place that evaluates a passed loved one’s assets, pays their final bills and taxes, and distributes what is left over to beneficiaries. As simple as this all sounds, the reality is a minefield of contentious family decisions, legal costs, and changing legislation. Each state determines their own probate laws and they are subject to regular update and so attempting to administer probate yourself or with the help of an automated service is a gamble of both resources and time.
An experienced probate attorney can help you avoid all of this but the financial cost is often greater than organizing an estate plan and the emotional burden is untold.
Hassle and associated fees are not the only reason to avoid probate; for some, they are not even the main reason. While awaiting probate, your heirs will not see a penny and may not have access to your accounts. They will need to pull from their own pockets to cover not only court costs, but property insurance, taxes and even storage fees until probate is officially opened. In present times, when so many peoples’ finances are already stretched to the limit, this can be devastating.
Another reason to skirt probate is that records are public and available to anyone to view. You would not want your bank balances shared openly while living and there is no reason you would want otherwise once you have passed on.
In addition to expediting the process and saving on the cost of distributing your assets, an estate plan that avoids probate is also private. It keeps everything in the family, literally.
The first step to getting an estate plan off the ground is to list all you own and organize a family meeting. Once you have addressed the delicate subject of inheritances and chatted about who might serve as executor, financial power of attorney, and medical power, the next step is to reach out to a trusted and experienced estate planning lawyer.
Your attorney, guided by your goals and wishes, ensures the rest is easy. In less time than you think and at a fraction of both the financial and emotional cost of probate, you’ll have your affairs in order and you’ll move on to living your life secure in the knowledge that at least one of the future’s big uncertainties no longer looms on the horizon.
To see how we can help you contact Miller Estate and Elder Law today!. You can also simply call us at 256-472-1900. Talk to you soon!