Are you considering ways to avoid probate? Many people want to avoid probate for a variety of reasons. Probate can be expensive. Probate is public. Probate takes time. Probate can be a headache. There are a variety of estate planning strategies that can help you effectively meet your goals, but be sure to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney so that you do not make one of these common mistakes when trying to avoid probate.
1. Not Planning Properly. A very common mistake that people make when trying to avoid probate may be to add estate beneficiaries as joint account holders or “payable on death” beneficiaries on bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and other assets that would typically pass through probate. In doing so, they may be avoiding probate for those assets, but not necessarily taxes. In fact, it is possible that, without proper planning, more taxes will be incurred than if the assets just went through probate.
2. Not Updating The Plan. Many people go through the effort of creating an estate plan with the purpose of using a trust or other vehicle to avoid probate, and then fail to update it as they acquire more assets and wind up needing to go through probate anyway. As with any type of estate plan, even one that is not meant to avoid probate, you should always revisit the plan at least once a year to make sure it is updated and remains the appropriate plan for you, your family, and your assets.
3. Not Being Mindful Of The Costs. Another mistake when trying to avoid probate may be spending too much money to do it. If your only goal is avoiding the costs and taxes associated with going through probate, you may want to check that the estate plan you chose will not cost more money than probate. Sometimes, the cost of preparing the estate planning vehicle needed to avoid probate can cost you more money up front than probate would cost and thus would not accomplish your ultimate goal of cost-savings.
To learn more about estate planning techniques to best serve your goals, please reach out to our office to schedule a meeting.