Probate is a legal process that you should take into consideration when you are planning your estate. During probate, the court determines the validity of the will. If interested parties wanted to challenge the will, they would present an argument during probate.
If the will is deemed valid, the executor will prepare the assets for distribution to the heirs under the supervision of the probate court.
Property that was in your personal possession immediately before your death will be considered probate property. Probate property is not immediately distributed to the heirs that you name in your will. The heirs will not receive their inheritances until the estate has been probated and closed.
This is surprising to many people, who may prefer that their loved ones receive their inheritances right away. For some some people this would be a luxury, but other families genuinely need immediate liquidity.
When you hear about the drawbacks of probate, you may naturally wonder if probate is always required.
Different states have different laws with regard to the possibility of the transfer of an estate outside of probate. In the state of Ohio, the executor can request a simplified probate process if the estate in question is valued under $35,000. The request can also be made if the surviving spouse is going to be inheriting everything and the total value of the estate does not exceed $100,000.
Regardless of the extent of your assets, probate can be avoided altogether if you take certain steps. There is nothing requiring you to arrange for the transfer of assets that you own personally through the execution of a last will.
You have other options that would facilitate the transfer of assets outside of the process of probate. One possibility would be the creation of a revocable living trust.
Contrary to popular belief, all trusts are not specifically designed for the wealthy. Revocable living trusts are useful for people of ordinary means who want to arrange for asset transfers outside of probate.
When you create one of these trusts, you retain control of the assets while you are still alive and well. After you die, the trustee that you name in the trust agreement distributes monetary resources to the beneficiaries according to your wishes. These distributions made to the beneficiaries by the trustee after your death are not subject to the probate process.
If you would like to discuss living trusts and other probate avoidance strategies with a licensed professional, contact our firm to schedule a consultation.
We would be glad to answer all of your questions and help you create a plan that leads to a fast and efficient transfer of assets to your loved ones.