Estate Planning Tips for Avoiding Probate
Probate is notorious for being unnecessarily lengthy and complicated. This is why legal and financial experts advise making advanced preparations to avoid it altogether. But what exactly is probate, and why should you avoid it? This blog will answer those questions and provide helpful tips on evading the hassles that the process brings.
What Is Probate?
Probate is a legal process that transpires after someone dies. The court oversees this procedure and calls for the consolidation of the deceased’s assets, distribution of any remaining properties and payment of remaining debts. It is often a lengthy, expensive, and adversarial affair.
Why Should You Avoid Probate?
The probate judge is not required to appoint the executor/personal representative named in the will. The fee for this position is costly in SC (up to 5%).
You spend your whole life building up your assets, so those you care deeply about can live comfortably. The last thing you want is to give your hard-earned wealth to unintended parties while your loved ones must wait. In addition, estates that undergo probate may lose a significant portion of their value due to court fees and other professional expenses.
For these reasons, planning is essential to safeguard the value of your estate and ensure that your assets are handled the way you want in the event of your disability or passing. An estate probate lawyer can create a plan with all your goals.
At Wiles Law Firm, we advise avoiding probate mainly for the following reasons:
- Money: Court costs are involved throughout the process, which can quickly add over time.
- Time: Probating an estate can take months, even years.
- Privacy: Everything that happens during probate becomes a part of the public record. This means anyone can see how much money is involved, what the assets are and all the beneficiaries’ names.
How to Avoid Probate
Taking the necessary steps to avoid the costs and delays of probate might seem daunting. But with the help of an estate probate attorney, it is much easier than you think. Experts can help you make the right decisions to save your family from the headaches brought about by the intensely complicated court procedures.
If you ask a Charleston probate attorney, the best way to safeguard your assets from the courts is to create a trust centered estate plan.
Revocable Living Trust (RLT) planning involves the following steps:
Identify and Protect Your Beneficiaries
A good living trust plan will ensure that what you have goes to whom you want, the way you want, when you want and how you want. An experienced trust lawyer in Charleston SC, can assist you in providing protection opportunities for your loved ones and the inheritance they receive.
Creating Living Trusts
Creating a living trust is the best choice for avoiding probate. This is especially true if you own real estate. Creating a living trust with the help of an estate attorney may help your estate avoid probate, allowing your loved ones to get the most out of their inheritance. Trust also help your you avoid living probate/conservatorship in life as well. To ensure your assets avoid probate with a living trust, you must transfer a property title under your name to the trust. You will no longer be the property owner but instead the trustee, however, you do no lose control of that property because you are also the trustee. You must also appoint a person as your successor trustee. Their job is to ensure your assets are transferred to your trust beneficiaries at the time of your passing.
Establish Joint Ownership
Although trust planning is ideal for many, joint property with survivorship rights will also avoid probate, but be advised, it can cause your beneficiaries to miss out on tax savings and asset protection opportunities. With the help of a probate attorney in Charleston SC, you can explore this option and include it in your estate planning if it makes sense. The following are the three types of joint ownership with survivorship rights:
- Joint tenancy with the right of survivorship: This means if one owner dies, the property title passes automatically to the living owner without the need for probate.
- Joint tenancy by entirety: This is the same as the above but is only reserved for married couples. This option is not available in South Carolina.
- Community property: This option is only available if your property is in California, Alaska, Nevada, Arizona, Texas or Wisconsin.
Secure Your Family’s Future With the Help of an Estate Probate Lawyer
Wiles Law is a full-service business, tax and estate planning law firm dedicated to helping individuals and business owners protect their assets and preserve their legacies through specialized and tailored strategies. Our Charleston probate attorneys can help you plan for the future so your loved ones don’t have to go through the highly stressful and expensive probate settlement process.
In addition, our probate lawyers in Charleston SC will develop a plan to save every legal fee, court cost and tax dollar as legally possible. Contact us today by filling out this form and get in touch with a probate attorney in Charleston.