If you’ve ever been to court, you know that it can be a daunting experience. In court, only certain things matter – mainly, the facts. The legal process is based on adherence to laws, rules, regulations, sworn statements and the like. What may seem to be fair and just may not be how things go in court – that’s life in the legal arena.
Did you know that if a person has a Will as the only document for how their assets are to be distributed upon death, that a process called Probate kicks in? Of course this applies also if there is no Will.
This means that the estate is settled in the courts. Probate for a Will is not intended to drag people to court for any kind of critique or punishment by any means; it actually was created for the protection of people.
But it is a process, and it always takes time and a lot of effort on the part of the parties involved, especially the executor or administrator of the estate. Also, Probate may be costly and it is not a private affair; Probate matters are public record.
Did you know also that you can avoid Probate? With proper Estate Planning, the settlement of your estate can be kept out of the courts.
One advantage of creating official, legal Estate Planning documents that allow you to avoid Probate is that the affairs relating to the settlement of your estate are kept private.
There are other big advantages to proper Estate Planning also, such as:
- Protecting your assets from people who have no right to claim them
- Reducing the amount of estate taxes that have to be paid
- Creating individual inheritance plans that can be customized for each individual – especially useful for minors, grandchildren, sons and daughters who are married or about to become married, those with special needs, charities, etc.
- Creating gifting strategies that can reduce income taxes
There are many legal tools available to help you customize an Estate Plan that is just for you – and that’s really the essence of Estate Planning – a plan is created just for your circumstances. Not two plans are alike, which is the way it should be.
However, legally-binding Estate Planning documents must be created by an attorney who is trained in Estate Planning. Without legal counsel, an Estate Planning mistake could be very costly.
So, if you want to avoid Probate and get a plan that’s geared toward your unique circumstances, consult with an attorney trained in Estate Planning.