We cannot stress enough the importance of planning to avoid probate court. Probate is a court-supervised process of gathering a deceased person's assets and distributing them to creditors and inheritors. Even without troubling family dynamics, the probate process is something you want to avoid. It is public, time-consuming, stressful, and can be very costly - during an already tough time for your loved ones. Many have heard horror stories about probate court, but you simply cannot imagine how taxing it can be unless you’ve experienced it yourself.
When it comes to avoiding the probate process, there is one thing that is more important than having the actual documents prepared: making sure all your property is titled correctly. This includes various accounts, policies, real estate, and the like. If you do not take the additional steps past your document drafting, your wishes to avoid probate court will be in vain. What does this mean?
This means that even if your Will states your house will go to your children, your children will not automatically be able to avoid probate court! If you fail to ensure that the property is not in your name alone, your children will be forced to go to probate - even if only for a house! The same goes for a Trust: If you spell out specific wishes for your house in your Trust but do not ensure the title is transferred properly- your loved ones can run into the same issue if the property is in your name alone.
The same concept applies to bank accounts and any policies, stock, or investments needing beneficiaries. Failing to designate beneficiaries on accounts in your name alone will give your relatives a one-way ticket to probate court! Having the right documents is only the first step in the right direction. You must make sure that appropriate designations are in place so that your wishes are truly carried out! Do not get in trouble with Do-It-Yourself (DIY) efforts! Work with a professional TODAY! Give us a call!