Avoiding the Pain of Probate
Avoid Probate by using a Revocable Living Trust as your Primary Estate Planning Tool
I often meet with clients whose most important goal is to avoid probate. A very good idea indeed! These clients realize that you will end up in probate if you don’t have a Will. What they don’t know is that you can end up in probate even with a Will.
A Will is a document that designates who will be your personal representative (or in some states, your executor). It also states who will get your assets on your death. What it does NOT do in Arizona is transfer your property to those who inherit it. You can say in your Will that your son gets your house, but the Will simply does not transfer title to him. The same is true for your bank account and your stock account and your other titled property.
In addition, even though the Will states who will be your personal representative, the Will doesn’t give them the authority to act for your estate. Until the court officially appoints them and issues the Letters of Personal Representative, they can do nothing to manage your estate or deal with your property.
As you can see, even if you have a Will, your personal representative will have to file a probate with the court. That can be time consuming and expensive. If there is any dispute, it can be an agonizing and long, drawn out procedure. But probate is avoidable with the right estate planning tools. For most people, the Revocable Living Trust is the ideal solution.
A properly prepared and funded Revocable Living Trust (one that holds all of your assets) will avoid the need for a probate court proceeding on your death. It also avoids the possibility of disclosure of your assets to the public. (Probate proceedings are public record.)
With a Trust, the person you select to handle your affairs (your successor trustee) will be able to step in quickly to keep the bills paid, and to gather, sell and distribute your assets to your beneficiaries. Rarely is there a need for a court to be involved.
With the Revocable Living Trust, your assets are titled in your name (or your name and your spouse’s) as trustee rather than in your individual name as owner. While you are alive and competent, you control your financial affairs much the same as you do without a trust. You manage your assets, receive the income, pay bills, buy and sell property and so on.
However, when you can no longer manage your affairs (either when determined incompetent or at death), your successor trustee (someone you have already named in your Trust) is able to easily move into place to take care of your finances and manage your property. Then, at your death, that trustee steps into your shoes as trustee and can settle your estate without going through the entire probate process and with minimal expense for attorneys and other professionals.
Avoiding probate with a Revocable Living Trust is a gift to your heirs. Spending the money now to put the right plan in place will save them time, expense and heartache. Best of all, you give yourself peace of mind. Your heirs are blessed with a simplified estate administration and the comfort of knowing that your wishes have been fulfilled.
For more on the benefits and uses of the Revocable Living Trust, take advantage of my free consultation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 602-375-6752, or visiting my website at libbybanks.com.