When you die, you want all of your assets to pass down to the beneficiaries of your choice without any contention, legal fees, and drama. While probate may seem inevitable in most cases, it does not have to be painful and expensive. So let’s discuss some ways to avoid probate or, at the very least, make it as straightforward as possible.       Probate Defined and Can It Be Costly

What Is Probate?

When you pass away and have a will, the probate process ensures that the will is final and valid. For example, when a will enters probate, family members and creditors will get a chance to contest where the money should go before it is distributed.

Depending on how ironclad the will is, the probate process can get long and hairy and even go to court. This is when the fees start to add up, and the amount of money available to distribute to beneficiaries decreases with each moment that passes.

How Can You Streamline Probate or Avoid It Altogether?

Here are some ways to ensure you will not waste money on probate after incapacitation or death:

  • Create a Trust: When you implement a trust into your estate plan, the trust does not have to enter probate. Nothing changes with death or incapacitation when it comes to a trust. The trustee will continue to follow the directions as usual.
  • Write Letters of Confirmation with the Will: If you think there may be a disputation among the family about a specific beneficiary, write a letter stating that you know it is a controversial choice. When you are clear about your intentions to blot out any doubt that may arise, it’s less likely that the court will allow the distribution to be argued.
  • Review Your Will and Estate Plan Regularly: A will is very likely to enter a complicated probate process if it has not been reviewed for 20 years. Therefore, take time to go over your estate plan with each significant life change: death, marriage, birth, or divorce.
  • Tax-Free Gifts While Living: The higher the money going into probate, the higher the costs will be. While living, you can give tax-free gifts to loved ones in the amount of $16,000 per year.

If you want to avoid probate, Shoup Legal is at your service. We can help you put safeguards in place to be sure that your family does not have to wait out the probate process and pay for it from their inheritance. Contact us at (951) 455-4114 or email at [email protected] to get started on your estate planning needs.