Peterson Paletta Balice

What is Probate and How Do You Avoid It?

Grand Rapids & Ionia Attorneys

Probate Attorneys Grand Rapids Ionia MI

Probate is a necessary legal process to make sure your final wishes are carried out. But it can also reduce how much money is passed onto your beneficiaries.

According to Nolo, probate can eat up to 5% of your estate’s value through attorney and probate court costs. That’s why it’s important to hire one of our estate planning attorneys in Grand Rapids and Ionia, MI. They’ll be able to answer any questions you may have about probate avoidance so you can take the proper precautions to safeguard your estate.

Here’s what our estate lawyers want you to know.

What is Probate?

Probate is a process the courts go through to authenticate a last will and testament. It ensures that everything is carried out according to the final wishes of the decedent.

The personal representative you appoint for your estate will locate and secure assets. They’ll also pay any debts, bills, and taxes. What remains of your estate, they’ll distribute to your beneficiaries.

The main problem is that the probate process may take several months or years. This means that your beneficiaries will have to wait before they’re able to inherit.

If there are any will contests, your personal representative or beneficiaries may also have to consult with a probate litigation attorney.

Related: Can Estate Planning Prevent Inheritance Disputes? →

How Can I Avoid Probate?

Avoiding probate is simpler when you hire an estate planning attorney. Below are some of the things your attorney may advise you to do to avoid probate.

Write a Living Trust

As the name suggests, a living trust goes into effect while you are still living. A trust planning attorney can help you set up a living trust and appoint a trustee. The assets you place “in trust” are then managed by the trustee.

Since you’re alive when all this happens, the courts will know that your final wishes are being carried out according to your will.

Name Beneficiaries for Bank & Retirement Accounts

Most people are surprised to learn that you can name beneficiaries for bank accounts. But taking this simple step can ensure that the right people inherit your money. This is especially true if you have a lot of savings.

Also, list beneficiaries for your retirement accounts so they won’t get tied up in probate. Instead, they will go straight to their intended recipients at death.

Hold Property Jointly 

You can’t include joint property in your estate if the other property owner is still alive. This is why most married couples own houses jointly. This ensures that the primary residency doesn’t get tied up in probate after a spouse’s death.

Jointly-held property will always go to the survivor. That’s why it’s important to check the specific ownership designation of your real estate.

The house should be retitled after the death of the first spouse. This will protect it from probate after the death of the second spouse.

Book an Estate Planning Consultation

Everyone needs an estate plan, regardless of the size of their estate. The best way to ensure your final wishes are honored is to book a consultation with one of our probate attorneys in Grand Rapids and Ionia, MI. During your appointment, they’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and help outline your next steps. To get started, please Peterson Paletta Balice or fill out our online contact form.

This blog post has been updated.

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