As you prepare your estate plan, you may place a lot of attention on your will. However, this is only one document of many, and might not even be the most effective one depending on the situation. Wills involve probate, which can have its difficulties.
So, you might want to consider the potential benefits of using other estate planning tools to avoid the probate process.
What is probate?
Probate involves going through special court proceedings to validate a will and ensure the proper administration of the estate. It can take months to years to complete and typically requires numerous fees. Only very small estates stay out of the full process in Connecticut.
Benefits of avoiding probate
While probate may be beneficial when family disputes are present or creditors are trying to reclaim debts, in some instances the disadvantages may outweigh the advantages. Circumventing probate can sometimes save significant time and money, allowing more assets to go to beneficiaries (and sooner) instead of to the court and state. Bypassing probate could also grant you and your family privacy, as probate results in public records.
How to avoid probate
There are several options out there for how to avoid probate. One is to transfer assets to a trust, which separates the property from your estate and thus removes it from probate. You also can designative beneficiaries of your retirement account, Payable on Death account or Transfer on Death registration. With such designations, these assets will generally be distributed upon death without going through probate. Also, joint property can go to the surviving owner to escape probate. Gifting assets is another option, but this one can be tricky. You have to do it right, or you could risk losing money to taxes and fines.
When it comes to pursuing probate avoidance, or any other estate planning goal, it can be worthwhile seek out guidance on what options would be best-suited for your goals and situation.