If you’ve taken a look around a few estate planning websites, you’ve likely heard claims of how detrimental or painstaking probate court is. In fact, one of the most common reasons for creating an estate plan is to avoid probate. Very few of those websites, however, take the time to explain exactly why probate should be avoided and how to ensure that your estate stays out of probate. That’s something we’re seeking to remedy today by clearing up some misconceptions about avoiding probate and detailing the benefits of doing so.
Why Should I Avoid Probate?
To start, the probate process usually consists of verifying the decedent’s will, appointing an executor to the will, and then following the process of determining which assets should be distributed to the beneficiaries after paying the decedent’s debts. Depending on the size of the estate, this process could take a lengthy period of time. With more time and complexity comes more expenses in handling the probate of the estate, and this reason alone is enough to convince most to do their best to avoid probate.
Keeping an estate out of probate also means that your assets will not become part of the public record. This may or may not be a significant selling point for you, but to some with large estates, keeping the details of their assets away from the public eye is essential – leading them to undergo the effort of ensuring that their estate will not need to go through probate.
Avoiding Probate Can Be Difficult
How difficult it is for you to avoid probate depends heavily on the size and complexity of your estate, but for some, will be automatic. If the total value of an estate in Kentucky is less than $30,000, it will not enter into probate and instead will enter into an expedited process. For those who want to avoid probate entirely, a trust is often used to transfer assets out of the control of the owner, and into the control of the trust. Legally, the individual no longer owns those items, and so they won’t be included in the value of their estate.
Some items are considered non-probate property, and also won’t be included in the valuation of the estate. This mainly includes jointly-owned property which is passed onto a partner automatically upon the death of the other, such as shared houses or bank accounts. In order to avoid probate, every asset which is considered probate property is transferred into a trust, effectively leaving no items (or less than the minimum required for probate) to be distributed in your will.
With this process, avoiding probate is possible; however, it can become difficult for some to stay on top of transferring every necessary asset into the trust. This method poses a significant risk, as the costs of upkeeping a trust could be for naught if not kept up to date. If enough property is left out of the trust, the estate will be forced into probate regardless, which means that we’ve effectively cost ourselves more money by paying both to upkeep the trust and for the probate process.
If you’re seeking to avoid probate, you’ll need the most experienced estate planning attorneys around. Look no further than Kentucky Estate Planning Law Center. Our team approach means that we’re able to create a comprehensive plan that will work for you, and we offer ongoing updates to your estate documents, ensuring that your plan is never out of date. To get started with your own estate plan, contact us today.