The most common tip you hear about when preparing for the unexpected is to arrange a last will and testament. Your will outlines how you would like your assets distributed, including beneficiaries and amounts. The will can also name a guardian of your children if both parents were to pass away while the children were under 18.
Some people think that once they have created a will, everything will be taken care of if they pass away. The truth is that a will is often not enough. If there are any holes in the will, including if someone believes you were coerced, not competent, or misled while creating the will, the will can enter a lengthy probate process.
What Is Probate?
When a person dies, their assets enter probate, which is a holding place for the estate until everything is distributed correctly. The probate process proves everything in the will to be correct. At this time, beneficiaries and others get to contest the will or argue that something was not included in the will.
Some causes for contesting a will may include the birth of a new child or grandchild since the will was last updated. Other life changes that deem a will invalid could be divorce, death, or a new marriage. In addition, money will not be distributed to the specified beneficiaries until the probate process is over.
How Long Does a Will Get Tied Up in Probate?
The probate process can be very short if a will is straightforward and everything is spelled out in detail. But if someone contests the will, the process becomes much more lengthy and expensive. Many times, beneficiaries are waiting on the money from a will to pay their mortgage and everyday bills.
If the assets get tied up in probate, it is unpredictable how long beneficiaries might have to wait. Paying for lawyers and waiting months, even years, to get your inheritance can feel frustrating and wasteful.
How Do You Avoid Probate?
Making the will as detailed as possible will minimize the probate process. For example, make a notation stating that so and so was intentionally left off the will, for this reason, to clear up any arguments.
You can also create a living trust. A trust allows you to control your assets while you’re living and appoint a trustee to carry out your wishes once you pass away. The assets in the trust will not be affected by your death. Distributing assets will continue as instructed by you with no risk of probate.
You do not have to figure out your estate planning needs by yourself. Shoup Legal is here to help. Call us at (951) 445-4114 or email us at [email protected] to learn more about we can help you gain peace of mind knowing you and your loved ones are protected.