If you’re looking to avoid leaving a mess when you pass, you’ll want to make sure you protect your assets from the probate process. Unless you're an attorney, nothing good comes from the probate process. It can be expensive.
Going through the probate process can involve months of filling out forms and various procedural requirements — all while incurring legal fees which often approach 5 – 10% of the estate value.
In addition, probate can take a long time. While it is possible for an estate to be probated in six to twelve months, it is not uncommon for the probate process to extend to one to three years before the estate is settled.
Lastly, probate is an invasion of privacy. Your entire estate will become a matter of public record during the probate process. Anyone can go to the courthouse and find out what assets are in the estate, their value, and to whom the assets are to be distributed. If you don’t want to leave a mess, consider using the following methods to protect your estate from probate process.
Inventory Your Estate and Determine Ownership
The first step to avoid probate is to determine the assets that you own. Make a list of your assets, including financial accounts, real estate and vehicles. Once you inventory your estate, you can determine whether the asset is owned individually or jointly.
Utilize Beneficiaries and Payable on Death
One method of avoiding probate is to properly name beneficiaries on life insurance policies and retirement accounts. Financial institutions often allow someone to be named as payable on death, which also avoids probate.
Create a Trust
Placing assets in a trust is the most foolproof way to protect your estate from probate. A trust requires three parties: a grantor who sets up the trust, a trustee who manages the trust assets, and a beneficiary who benefits from the trust assets. A trust protects your estate from probate because, technically, you don’t own the assets in the trust, the trust owns the assets. Only assets owned solely in your name require probate.
To set up a properly configured trust, give us a call. Every person is unique. Your trust must address your plan and your goals. No online document preparation is going to provide the judgment, knowledge and wisdom of decades of practice. At AlerStallings, we address the unique needs of each client.
Legally protecting your estate from probate can be difficult if you are not familiar with Ohio probate law. We have experienced attorneys with offices in Cleveland, Columbus, and throughout the state of Ohio, and we are here to assist you in protecting your estate for your family. Contact AlerStallings today to discuss what how we can help you today!