Gilbert, Arizona once known as the “Hay Shipping Capital of the World” is currently the most populous incorporated town in the United States. Gilbert has made a rapid transformation from an agriculture based community and is now economically diverse suburban center. In 2010 Gilbert was recognized as the “36th Best Place to Live in the Nation” and one of the Nation’s “Top Places to Live and Learn.”
What is Probate?
Probate is the process by which a person’s estate is distributed upon their death according to the applicable legal standards. When someone dies, their property must be distributed to their named beneficiaries according to their will. In the event the individual did not devise a will, their estate must then be distributed according to state law. Regardless if there is a will or not, the estate must be distributed, which is what “probate” refers to. As the process itself can become quite costly, it can take a long time (at a minimum 4 months, but in most cases longer), and going through probate may result in distributions that the individual did not perhaps plan for, there are advantages to avoiding probate.
How Can I Avoid Probate?
A knowledgeable probate attorney may be able to administer your estate through an informal proceeding and avoid court, however a lot greatly depends on your personal circumstances. An informal proceeding is available when the will is uncontested (no one is claiming the will is incorrect), and the will and execution have met specific requirements. In the event there is no will or the will is contested, then avoiding court is not a possibility.
There are more options to getting around probate, for example executing a revocable living trust. A living trust is a great tool to keep control over assets, distribution and the management thereof. In its simplest terms the main difference between a will and a trust is that a trust can hold onto assets for a much longer time than a will. A will “speaks upon death” and is therefore limited by the lifetime of the testator (creator). This does not mean that a will should be avoided. Quite the contrary - a will is a powerful instrument. For example, it is the only document that can nominate a guardian for dependent children. A revocable living trust, a will, and declaring powers of attorney are complementary legal documents and should be used together in proper estate planning.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Today’s World Wide Web offers many ways to “do it yourself,” however there are substantial risks involved when one attempts to save a few bucks on a complex legal matter. Boxed legal documents do not provide adequate protection or procedure because every estate plan is as individual as the person who wishes to make one. It is just too easy to make a mistake and the problem becomes compounded upon probate. Additionally, the two options mentioned in the above section are only two of several ways to adequately avoid probate. Other options depend on your particular circumstances, property, and wishes. There is no reason to make an already difficult situation for your loved ones more difficult.
Platt & Westby, P.C. are experienced probate attorneys. Having been in business for over 40 years, Platt & Westby, P.C. can assist with any estate planning need. Let us take the burden off your shoulders. Please call 602-277-4441 for a free and confidential appointment.