Estate Planning Probate: Keeping Inheritance Assets out of Court

Estate planning probate refers to legal protocol used to designate beneficiaries to receive inheritance assets in the event of death. The majority of Americans procrastinate about estate planning; particularly when they are young and in good health. Unfortunately, death can arrive unannounced at any age.

Dying without establishing estate planning probate protocol creates unnecessary burdens for your family or loved ones. This can easily be prevented by executing a last will and testament or establishing an irrevocable trust.

Executing a legal last will can be accomplished by various means. The most common involves hiring a probate lawyer or estate planning service. These professionals can help determine which methods offer the most protection to heirs and beneficiaries.

It is important to realize all your worldly possessions will be transferred to probate unless steps are taken to avoid the process. The probate process typically lasts between six and nine months. During this time the estate administrator is responsible for paying outstanding debts, maintaining real estate holdings, submitting legal documents for transfer of financial assets, and various other duties.

The Will must be validated through the probate court to ensure inheritance property is distributed according to probate law. Probate laws are governed by each individual state. When individuals die intestate (without a Will) assets are distributed to the surviving spouse or direct lineage heirs including children, brothers, sisters, mothers or fathers.

Inheritance assets held in probate can depreciate over time. Add in associated probate costs and inheritance assets can quickly be depleted; leaving nothing for intended beneficiaries.

Several options exist for keeping inheritance assets out of probate. Estate planning providers can assist with executing a last will, power of attorney, healthcare proxies, and establishing transfer-on-death (TOD) and payable-on-death (POD) accounts to avoid probate.

Estates valued over $100,000 should engage in estate planning probate to establish a trust. A variety of trusts exist including revocable and irrevocable trusts and irrevocable life insurance trusts.

Transferring assets to a trust allows decedents’ estate to avoid probate altogether and maintain their privacy. Last wills are a matter of public record; whereas trusts are private and can only be viewed by named beneficiaries. Inheritance property held in trusts is oftentimes exempt from taxation.

Estate planning probate is not difficult. The only requirement is to legally document what you own and who you wish to receive it when you die. However, estate planning is an ongoing process. Trusts and wills should be updated when major changes occur. For example, if the designated probate executor is unable to fulfill duties or you buy or sell real estate or financial assets, the will or trust should include the changes.

Many banks and credit unions offer complimentary estate planning probate consultations to customers. Probate lawyers can assist in all manners of estate planning, as well as professional estate planners who specialize in establishing wills and trusts. A list of nationwide estate planning probate lawyers can be located through the American Bar Association website at

Entrepreneur and real estate investor, Simon Volkov, offers a comprehensive article library which provides current information on estate planning probate, inheritance, last wills, heirs, beneficiaries, estate planning and more. Obtain additional information visiting

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