When a person passes away without a will—or even with a will—that person’s estate must go through probate. The probate process is often time-consuming, frustrating, and expensive. It is made all the more difficult by the grief that accompanies the loss of a loved one. Many people choose to have an attorney create a plan that allows their estate, and their loved ones, to avoid probate. At Biddinger & Estelle PC, we have helped numerous Michiganders accomplish this goal.
The Benefits of Avoiding Probate
Avoiding probate can accomplish all of the following:
There are court fees, legal fees, and other expenditures associated with probate. By avoiding probate, the money saved is available to heirs.
Expedite the Distribution of Estate Assets
Most probates in Michigan take between seven months and one year. Complicated estates and family disputes can make probate last even longer. Assets cannot be distributed to heirs during probate, which can make it difficult for surviving family members to pay mortgages, make car payments, pay for insurance, and more.
Probate is a public process. Anyone, including potential predators, can gain access to information about the decedent’s debts, creditors, assets, and other sensitive matters.
Avoid Estate Recovery
If Medicaid pays for the nursing home care (or other medical care) of a person 55 or older, the state can make a claim on the person’s assets after death. However, if assets had been transferred to a trust before the person passed away, there would be no assets in the decedent’s estate available for recovery. Therefore, using a trust to avoid probate also protects against estate recovery.
How to Avoid Probate
Trusts, pay-on-death or transfer-on-death accounts, and joint ownership with rights of survivorship are among the tools and strategies that can be used to avoid probate. If your primary concern is transferring real estate, you might want to consider what is called a lady bird deed. It allows for the transfer of real property outside of probate while offering greater flexibility that a traditional life estate deed.
To learn more about how to avoid probate, and the many benefits of estate planning in general, contact us for a consultation to discuss your particular needs and goals. We would love to meet you in person and get to know you.