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Can probate be avoided?

There are many things to consider as you are writing your will. You have family, belongings and property to sort through, and deciding how to handle it might not be easy or comfortable. The last thing you want is for your family to go through extensive time in court debating over your belongings and property.

Probate has a negative reputation for being expensive, time-consuming and public. There are times when this is necessary, especially when the estate has a higher value. The probate process is prolonged when there are disputes regarding the will due to confusing language or a family member who is unhappy with the result.

While completely avoiding probate might not be possible, there are some ways that can decrease the amount of time your beneficiaries must spend in probate court. Be wary of solutions that may offer ways to get around probate. These could also cause unplanned consequences down the road. An example could be adding the name of the beneficiary to your bank account or mortgage, which could result in them paying unnecessary taxes.

Ways you can help minimize chances of probate can include:

1. Writing a clear and concise will

You may want to write your will as straightforward as you can. There may be matters that are more complex, but using language that can be easily understood can help the process go along more smoothly.

2. Carefully choose your executor

Your executor will be the family member that ensures assets are distributed accordingly. Choose someone you trust will be able to do the job, so your wishes are carried out as intended.

3. Trusts

You can designate funds to specific family members or charities. This includes setting aside a certain amount for grandchildren under 18 that they can receive once they are of age or reserving an amount to donate to a charity of your choosing. By doing this, the money can be distributed efficiently without paying extra fees or time in probate court.

Probate is likely unavoidable. It also might not be the best experience for a family to go through after the passing of a loved one. Taking proactive steps may help lower the risk of unnecessary disputes among your family and spend less time in probate court.

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