A last will and testament is oftentimes the biggest effort people make when it comes to taking care of their family after they pass on, but this is usually the first step for the legal process known as probate. The probate process can take months or even years to complete, subjecting families to a long legal process that can potentially ruin their relationships with each other.
♦ Probate Simplified
The probate process begins when the will is sent to the legal courts, usually within a few weeks after the deceased’s death occurs. Once this paperwork is processed, the judge appoints someone to be the executor to the deceased’s estate and is responsible to pay off any debtors, locate all the assets, and distribute them to the appropriate heirs. This process, though it sounds simple, can take years to finalize before anybody sees any of the money or other assets.
♦ The Grieving Process
During probate, the executor must analyze the will and the deceased’s assets in order to find out who precisely should inherit what. This process can raise animosity among grieving family members, who are already suffering from their loss. If the will is unclear and the executor gives out an uneven or unfair amount to one of the family members, it can drive a wedge between the family and even tear them apart for years, or even permanently.
♦ Avoiding Probate
Probate can be avoided with careful planning that should be started many years in advance. The best solution for avoiding probate, which is even better than a will, is to set up a living trust that could be activated whenever death or incapacitation occurs. A living trust enables a person or their trustee to distribute their assets and make decisions without interference from the probate legal process. An estate or probate lawyer can help set up a living trust and ensure it is properly fulfilled.
♦ Doing It the Right Way
Probate can be a grieving family’s worst nightmare, but it is not the only option available. A living trust can help families avoid probate while also ensuring that the deceased’s last wishes are still followed through. Without it, a family is at the mercy of the legal process, costing them time and money. With a living trust, a family can grieve in peace without worrying about the deceased’s final wishes.