All of us hope that we can pass along some valuable assets to our kids and grandkids. That’s a big part of what the estate planning process is all about: Ensuring that you’re leaving a real legacy for your loved ones. Sadly, passing along assets is not as simple as you might think. There are a number of hazards to be aware of, including a costly and time-consuming process known as probate.
DIY estate planning often ends in probate but hiring an estate planning law firm can actually help you avoid it. Here’s how.
What is Probate?
To begin with, it’s important to clarify what we’re talking about when we talk about probate.
When you die either without any kind of estate planning documents in place, or with only a basic will, there is a decent chance that your assets will need to be reviewed by the probate court before they are passed along to your intended beneficiaries. What’s more, there is a chance that the probate court will not allocate your assets according to your wishes. In short, probate court can throw a wrench into your estate planning efforts.
Why Avoid Probate Court?
There are plenty of specific reasons why it’s beneficial to keep your estate out of probate whenever possible.
- Navigating probate court is a cumbersome legal process, and that’s the last thing you want your loved ones to have to deal with.
- Probate fees will diminish the value of your estate, leaving your loved ones with less wealth than you’d hoped.
- The probate process requires the contents of your estate to be made public, which means a loss of confidentiality.
For these and other reasons, it is always better to avoid probate when possible. And the best way to do this is usually to enlist the expertise of a skilled estate planning lawyer.
How Can You Avoid Probate?
A qualified estate planning attorney will be able to review your estate and provide you with a clear plan to keep your assets out of probate, thus minimizing the hassle your heirs and beneficiaries will have to endure.
Generally speaking, there are three primary ways to keep an asset from entering probate:
1) Write a living trust.
Simply having a will is usually not sufficient to keep your assets out of probate. However, a living trust is specifically designed to shield your estate from probate. An estate planning lawyer can help you draft this important document.
2) Name beneficiaries on your key accounts.
This won’t work for all assets, but with bank accounts and retirement accounts, you can sometimes avoid probate simply by naming your beneficiaries. Your estate planning attorney can provide further clarity.
3) Hold property jointly.
A third option is that, by holding property jointly with your spouse, you can sometimes prevent it from going through the probate process. Again, an estate planning lawyer can provide clarity.
These are three of the main ways in which working with an expert in estate law can help you prevent your assets from entering probate. To speak with an estate planning lawyer in the Fremont, CA area, we invite you to contact Singh Law Firm.
Talk with an Estate Planning Lawyer in Fremont, CA
Singh Law Firm has a proven track record providing clients with advanced estate planning services. The firm is particularly knowledgeable about living trusts, one of the best tools for avoiding probate. To find out more, schedule a consultation with an attorney from Singh Law Firm. Contact us whenever you’re ready to have a conversation about your estate plan.