A common tip you hear about when preparing for the unexpected is to get a last will and testament. Your will outlines how you want your assets distributed if something happens to you. It includes who gets what, and in what amount. The will can also name a guardian of your children. That can be important if both parents were to die while the children were under 18. However, for a will to be implemented, it needs to be filed with the probate court.
You might think that once you’ve created a will, everything just goes to the people you want. The truth is that a will is often not enough. There are many reasons your loved ones might need to do probate might. If there are any holes in the will, the people you leave behind might need to go to court. For example, someone might believe another person coerced you to write the will. Someone might believe you weren’t competent to sign the will. Or someone misled you to sign the will. The allegations don’t even have to be true. All it takes is for someone to believe them. Then your estate goes through a lengthy probate process.
What Is Probate?
When a person dies, their assets enter probate. This is a holding place for the estate until the court determines what needs to happen. The probate process proves everything in the will to be correct. Or the court could determine that something else needs to happen. . Beneficiaries and others get to contest the will. They also get to argue that something was not included in the will.
There are many reasons your loved ones might contest your will. For example, a child or grandchild was born since you last updated your will. Other life changes that deem a will invalid could be divorce, death, or a new marriage. Also, no one gets any money until the probate process is over.
How Long Does a Will Get Tied Up in Court?
The probate process can be very short. That’s especially true if a will spells out everything in detail. But if someone contests the will, the process becomes much more lengthy and expensive. Meanwhile, your beneficiaries will waiting on the money from your will. They won’t be able to pay their mortgage and everyday bills until it’s all resolved.
If the assets get tied up in probate, it is unpredictable how long beneficiaries might have to wait. Your loved ones will be paying for lawyers and waiting months, even years, to get your inheritance. This can feel frustrating and wasteful for them.
How Do You Avoid Probate?
Making the will as detailed as possible will cut the tine for the probate process. For example, if you want to leave someone out of your will, include a reason for doing this. That will help clear up any arguments.
You can also create a living trust. A trust allows you to control your assets while you’re living. It will also appoint a trustee to carry out your wishes once die. Distributing assets will continue as instructed by you with no risk of probate.
You do not have to figure out your estate planning needs by yourself. We’re here to help. Call us at 602-443-4888. Or you can schedule a Strategy Session HERE. We can help you gain peace of mind knowing you have protected yourself and your loved ones.