Probate: How to Prepare for It
April 15, 2016
As a probate attorney, I recommend that you sit down this weekend and take the time to think about your future. While no one wants to consider the eventualities of dying, it is something that happens to all of us. Unfortunately, it can happen well before you are ready. Things like accidents cannot be planned for, nor can diseases like cancer. However, if something did happen to you, would your family be prepared? If the answer is no, then you need to sit down and make a plan for how to help your family through what could be an incredibly difficult situation. If on the other hand, you are someone who is currently dealing with the loss of a loved one and need help going through the probate process, I can assist you immediately.
The Probate Process
There's something you should know about the probate process. It can be incredibly tedious, and it can also create a situation where there is significant conflict between your family members. If upon your passing, you do not have an existing will or living trust in place, it will be up to the state to determine what happens to all of your assets. For many people, this is a scary proposition, and if you have many children or organizations you want to leave property or assets to, it should certainly give you pause. Consider what it would be like to have all of your family members going before a judge and presenting their version of how your estate should be distributed. You can then begin to imagine the level of conflict that could be caused by two of your children fighting over a vacation property or over something sentimental like the family jewelry. Fortunately, if you work with an attorney today, you can help prevent much of this conflict in the future.
Where Are Your Assets?
As a probate attorney, I see many people run into challenges during the probate process while trying to prove where the assets and debts of the deceased are located. For example, if your children realize that you have investments but they are unsure where the investment accounts are held, it will be incredibly difficult for them to secure the transfer of ownership for these accounts. Simultaneously, if there are particular assets like property that you want to transfer to your heirs, they need to be able to access the location and legal documents associated with those assets. If you sit down and plan for your future, be sure to take the time to list out what all of your assets are, where they're located, the account numbers associated with them, and any pertinent information that someone would need in order to access them. There's no need for you to give this information to your heirs at this time. However, I would suggest that you do provide this information to an attorney.
I can help you create a will, living trust, or discuss what your concerns may be and help come up with a creative solution for how to transfer your assets. During this meeting, I can also ensure that all the information regarding your specific assets is kept secure so when you do eventually pass away, that information can be given to your heirs.
Also, if you are in a situation where you are currently going through the probate process because someone in your family has passed away, I can assist you and provide you with legal advice to make the process easier.
NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.