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Revocable Trusts, Wills, and Dealing with Probate

You’ve worked hard for your money and will want a say in how your assets are distributed when you pass. It’s important to understand the various strategies you can choose from when planning your estate to ensure your wishes are carried out. For some, a revocable trust can be a useful tool. For others, it is unnecessary and a will is sufficient – but it’s important to understand probate.

Understanding Probate

Probate is the process of the state recognizing your will and appointing an administrator for your estate. Even if you have a revocable trust instead of a will, it is still necessary to account for and administer the estate just as with a will.

Probate does not necessarily take a long time, and some trusts might have associated fees that make them just as expensive – or sometimes more expensive – than probate. There might also be delays associated with taxes for both wills and trusts. Retirement and bank accounts, as well as some other types of property, pass directly to a beneficiary and do not go through probate.

Probate has four basic steps:

  • Filing a petition with probate court and giving notice to heirs and beneficiaries.
  • Notifying known creditors of the estate and taking inventory of estate property.
  • Paying for estate and funeral expenses (out of the estate), as well as any debts or taxes.
  • Transferring legal title in property.

Why Choose a Revocable Trust?

You may opt to have a revocable trust, which can be useful for reasons such as:

  • Protecting property for certain beneficiaries
  • Managing property if you become incapacitated
  • Avoiding probate
  • Privacy

Additionally, a will is more likely to be contested than a revocable trust.

It is important to understand the legal and financial ramifications of various choices, and an attorney can help ensure that your documents are prepared correctly. For example, in some cases, it may be necessary to use specific legal terms to ensure that the document is valid or that the meaning is clear. Attorneys may also be able to help with the probate process or advise you on complex topics, such as how to structure an estate plan that is less likely to be challenged. The right choice of an executor for estate administration is also important. A TuckerAllen estate planning attorney can help determine the best option for you and draft these important documents.

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