In most cases, people expect to live comfortable off their retirement while expecting to leave portions of what is left to those listed in wills. Why would this not be an expectation considering how hard people work to build up assets and gain property throughout their lives? If this sounds like you, and you are concerned about the assets and properties you have accumulated, consider legacy planning as part of your estate planning process. These plans help you by allowing you to plan ahead with regards to your assets and property following your passing. This process is not only for the wealthy, but also for people of all walks of life in possession of assets and properties.
During the legacy planning process, it is not uncommon to begin thinking about creating a will as a way to ensure these transfers are handled properly. However, this is just one of the steps in the estate planning and legacy planning processes. Wills are important, but the creation of them does not ward off such nightmares as probate. Probate law differs from state to state and, in most cases, the fees associated with probate lawyers are high. The process of going to probate court involves inventorying the deceased’s property, ensuring all the deceased’s debts are paid off, and distributing property according to what is outlined in the will. If there is no will, distribution of property occurs based upon state law.
This entire probate process could take up to seven months; however, it is also possible for it take several years. Probate is dragged out when people are contesting a will, as well as in cases where property owned is spread out across more than one state (beyond the state the deceased resides in). These issues postpone the distribution of assets and properties to the rest of the beneficiaries listed in the will. Putting a legacy plan together does help prevent the probate process, and speeds up the process of appointing guardianship, appointing executor of a will and settling debts.
Did you know there is what’s called will substitutions available for people trying to avoid probate? For those interested in having full control over what happens to all their assets and properties outlined in their will, part two of this series outlines six suggested will substitutions in addition to how they work to avoid probate. These substitutions should, as with the rest of your estate planning and legacy planning, be discussed with your estate planning lawyer.