A loved one asked you to serve as her or his estate administrator. While researching the role’s duties, you learn about probate administration and how the process may drag on longer than necessary.
The American Bar Association discusses whether it makes sense to skip probate. You may not need to invest too much time and energy in avoiding the process.
The basics of probate
Depending on the assets, an estate may not qualify for probate court. For instance, retirement and life insurance plan proceeds go directly to named beneficiaries. Bank and brokerage accounts and real estate held in joint names with the right of survivorship also bypass probate.
Tax filing requirements and tax laws may lengthen the time to probate a will. Estate planning documents such as a living will cannot always bypass red tape.
The living trust value
Parties need not always place assets in a living trust for the sole purpose of avoiding probate. Sometimes, living trusts never eliminate probate. Depending on the state, probate laws may implement mandated attorney or court fees. Some states also streamline or speed up court proceedings for small or basic estates. Well-written wills make it easy to skip some probate steps.
The revocable living trust process
If your loved one’s property must pass through a revocable living trust at death, that property must transfer to the trust. A trustee administers the property before it shifts out of the trust to beneficiaries. Parties in some jurisdictions may pay real estate transfer taxes or fees.
Understanding the ins and outs of the probate process helps you become a well-informed estate administrator. Get the facts, so you honor your loved one’s desires.