Too often, people who pass away leave a legacy they never intended to leave. Their death can trigger family disputes from which parties do not recover, or they leave loved ones with messy, complicated legal matters that require time and money to resolve. Often, these conflicts erupt during the probate process.
To protect loved ones and make a difficult time less upsetting for them, you can take steps to make the probate process easier, thereby minimizing opportunities for disputes.
Have an estate plan
Perhaps the simplest way to make probate easier is to have a comprehensive estate plan in place. Make clear your wishes, address all your property and define who you want to act on your behalf.
Having an estate plan can reduce the likelihood that courts will make decisions that you may not have made yourself. It can also provide critical answers about your beliefs, which can be vital in helping your loved ones move forward.
Consider the process of transferring property
Leaving property to someone can be a generous gift – or an expensive headache. Transferring ownership of real estate or other properties can be far more complicated than you realize, so taking steps to make it straightforward and less costly can be much appreciated.
Options you could consider include ladybird deeds, gifting property before death, and clearing any title or ownership issues.
Probate can be easier when property does not go through this process. There are multiple ways to expedite or avoid probate. Estates and items under specific values do not go through the same procedure as larger estates and valuable assets, so having less property to distribute can make things easier.
Setting up and funding a trust can also shield property from probate, as these items transfer through the trust.
Skip the surprises
Using a will or estate plan to reveal secrets may be something you see in movies, but in real life, having surprising information in your plan can be problematic.
It can create confusion, leave people with hurt feelings, and trigger concerns regarding the testator’s mental state.
As such, it can be best to minimize surprises. Talk to your loved ones about your wishes and allow them to ask questions. Together, these suggestions can make probate – and your passing – a little easier on those who love you.