If you pass away without proper pre-planning, your assets will likely go through probate. Probate is a court-supervised process for distributing your assets to your heirs. The process can be time-consuming and expensive, and it can tie up your assets for months or even years.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process of distributing a deceased person's assets to their heirs. If the deceased person had a will, the court will follow the instructions in the will. If the deceased person did not have a will, the court will distribute the assets according to state law.
The probate process can be time-consuming and expensive. It can also be stressful for the family members who are trying to settle the estate. The probate process can take months or even years to complete, and during that time, the assets of the estate are usually not available to the heirs.
Why You Should Plan Your Estate to Avoid Probate
There are several good reasons to plan your estate to avoid probate.
- The probate process can be expensive.
- Probate can tie up your assets for a significant period of time.
- Probate is a public process, which means that anyone can access the documents filed with the court.
If you don't want your assets to go through probate, you need to plan your estate carefully. There are several ways to avoid probate, including setting up a trust, transferring ownership of your assets to a beneficiary, or giving your assets away.
How Can You Avoid Probate?
If you plan your estate carefully and properly, you can avoid probate altogether.
One way to avoid probate is to create a trust. A trust is an arrangement in which property is held by one person (the trustee) for the benefit of another person (the beneficiary). Trusts can be used to avoid probate because the property in the trust does not go through probate when the trustor dies.
Another way to avoid probate is to name a payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) beneficiary on eligible accounts. Assets that have a payable on death or transfer on death designee will not go through the probate process.
Another way to avoid probate is to give away property during your lifetime. For example, you could give your assets to your children now instead of waiting until after you die. However, this may not be practical for everyone and may not have the best tax consequences for your children. Allowing your children to inherit assets allows them to benefit from a step-up in cost basis.
Finally, some other estate planning tools, such as a life estate, may be available to avoid probate. There are many estate planning tools, each with their own uses. It is important to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to find the proper tool for your individual situation.
Contact a Probate Avoidance Attorney in Wisconsin
If you are looking for ways to avoid probate, Heritage Law Office can help. We offer legal services to help you plan your estate and give you peace of mind knowing that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes. Contact us today by calling 414-253-8500 or sending us a message to learn more about how we can help you!