Should I attempt to avoid probate?

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2018 | Estate Planning |

Probate is a term that frequently comes up in discussions about inheritance. Probate is the legal process through which assets are distributed to heirs from the estate. In many cases, people talk about avoiding probate. Is probate really that undesirable? The reasons you might want to avoid probate if possible is for the convenience and benefit of those who inherit your assets in the state of Georgia.

According to Nerdwallet, people fear probate because it may prolong the time it takes for their heirs to receive their assets. If you have set up a will, the probate process will be shorter than if you die with no will on record. The probate court will look at your will, validate it, and then authorize your estate to begin distributing the assets. However, if the provisions of the will are complicated, a court might take longer to authorize it.

You also have to consider that the will might be contested. Ultimately, only you understand the dynamics of your family. Your relatives might have no problem with your will as it is composed. Still, this is not the case for all wills, and if someone chooses to contest yours, the probate process may drag out.

Additionally, going through probate is a public affair. What transpires in court is not kept confidential. Everything involved in the process of probate will wind up as part of public record. So if you do not want certain family matters or information about your assets made public, it is in your interests to avoid probate.

Avoiding probate typically involves bypassing the usual route of passing on assets through a will. One way is to dispense assets to your heirs while you are still alive. By doing this, you would cut down on how much of your estate that goes through probate. You can also set up a trust and move your assets into it. Upon your death, the trust will pay the assets out without going through probate, since the assets belong to the trustee who oversees the trust.

You can also set up joint ownership of your assets. For instance, you could create a bank account that both you and your son or daughter own through a joint tenancy agreement. After you pass away, your account would not go through probate because your child still survives and would have full control over all the assets in the account. Other arrangements can include owning community property with a provision of right of survivorship.

Keep in mind that this article is written to educate readers on the subject of estate planning and is not intended as legal advice.