In our last article, we discussed some of the reasons why people want to avoid probate. But there can be good reasons for probating an estate.
Probate is a formal court proceeding, and as a result, it has the advantage of providing certain legally-sanctioned outcomes. Perhaps your loved one was a business man or had real estate investments and you wonder if he had outstanding contracts or owed someone money. Maybe you want to wrap things up and achieve closure sooner rather than later, so you can move on with certainty. Maybe your family tends to argue and you are concerned someone will make accusations that the estate isn’t being managed properly, or worse. Maybe your family members like to cheat each other.
Following the right steps in a formal probate bars claims from unknown creditors in six month’s time, rather than in two years. It protects an honest executor from unfounded claims of mismanagement. It protects beneficiaries from a dishonest executor’s misdeeds. Usually, there is an attorney involved guiding the executor to do the right thing, but even without an attorney, probate court provides a forum for wronged beneficiaries to alert the judge that something is wrong.
If there is a chance a probate proceeding could be right for your family, but you still want to maintain your privacy, you can use certain probate-avoidance techniques, such as a living trust, to keep the details of your estate out of the public eye. You can hide such details as the value of what is in your living trust and who the beneficiaries of your trust are.
There are many tools in the estate-planning world. The key is knowing what the tools are, which tools solve which problems, and when to use them. Schedule an appointment with Daci L. Jett to learn what we can do for you and your family.