Probate court is responsible for appraising your estate if you pass away without a completed estate plan. Your “estate” includes all the property and financial assets you own and plan to leave to your beneficiaries, such as financial accounts, real estate, vehicles, and even jewelry. Probate proceedings can last 6-9 months because the court needs time to evaluate your will (if you have one), and use your estate to pay off your remaining taxes and debts. During this time, it’s impossible for your beneficiaries to access their inheritance, and they may have to pay probate costs out-of-pocket.
Probate costs include:
- Court fees
- Attorney fees
- Executor fees
- Appraiser fees
These fees may cost up to 5% of your estate’s entire value.
Create an Estate Plan with Trust Documents
The best way to help your family avoid probate court is to create an estate plan with effective revocable trust documents. Unlike the probate process, your beneficiaries can inherit assets you’ve placed into a trust almost immediately.
Probate court is restricted from accessing or utilizing assets you don’t own to pay your debts. By placing your assets and property into a revocable living trust, you relinquish your ownership to protect them from probate. Even though you are no longer the “owner,” you are still the trustee, and have absolute control when it comes to altering or revoking the trust. Assets placed into a revocable trust aren’t free from taxes, but the overall impact to your estate will be greatly minimized.
Update Your Estate Plan
Just having an estate plan isn’t enough to avoid probate court. While your old estate plan and trust documents do offer some protection, they don’t account for any new property or assets you’ve accumulated since the initial drafting. Wills and pour-over wills are necessary elements to your estate plan, but don’t offer any probate protection for assets existing outside of a trust. Your pour-over will can transfer assets into a trust upon your passing, but they still go through probate.
Schedule a Consultation Today
Estate planning can be very complicated depending on your personal goals and the needs of your estate. Our firm has been serving clients for over 75 years, and we want our estate planning skills and experience to benefit you.
Contact Patton | Pittman Attorneys today at (931) 361-4477 to schedule a free consultation with our estate planning lawyer.