You may have heard the term – Probate – but what do you really know about it? More importantly, what should you know?! In 1989, AARP decided to do a study on probate and uncovered some very interesting facts about the process.
The vast majority of probate cases filed in our court systems revolve around the affairs of Americans who are ages 60 and over. There are over 8 million probate cases filed in our court systems every year. With that many cases occurring, it is easy to see how more than $2 billion is spent on probate related expenses.
The report noted that as much as 20% of small estates are consumed by attorney’s fees and executor’s fees. AARP’s study also found that most probate cases take over a year to complete and having a will seemed to have no effect on the time frame.
But what is the purpose of probate?
Probate serves four primary functions:
- Verifies that your will is valid if you have one;
- Inventories and establishes the value of your assets;
- Gives disgruntled family members a forum to challenge your estate plan;
- Transfers title of your property to your heirs.
Do you really need to go through probate to accomplish these tasks? AARP says no. They recommend alternatives such as a Revocable Living Trust.
A Revocable Living Trust makes probate unnecessary by changing the way you own your property. You still have absolute control over all of your assets, just as if you owned them directly, but you do not own property in your own name; instead, your Living Trust owns your property and you own your Living Trust.
In order to get the most out of your Living Trust, it is imperative that your trust be properly funded. The number one reason most trusts fail is due to not funding the trust. Your property has to be titled in the name of your Living Trust in order for it to work. Your trust should also be reviewed periodically to make sure it is up-to-date and current with the most recent law changes.
Contributed by MH Arrowhead, Scottsdale and Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney and partner, David T. Eastman.
Morris Hall Can Protect You in Today’s Litigious Society:
We live in a litigious society, where over 1 million lawsuits are filed every year in America alone. Financial predators are looking for ways to take funds from others and often use litigation as their means to do so. At Morris Hall we provide your assets and your loved ones with important protections that can prevent financial predators from taking advantage of you. We do this through proper and current estate planning techniques. With an MH living trust, we can also protect your property, assets and loved ones from probate, estate taxes, gift taxes, creditors, Medicaid spend-down, conservatorship or guardianship proceedings, ex-spouses and more. A living trust also keeps your asset and beneficiary information private and secure to avoid giving financial predators information to use against you and your family. Without a living trust, this information will be made public. For those living in Arizona, we serve the areas of Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert, Fountain Hills, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Prescott, Flagstaff, Sedona, Tucson, Sonoita, Arrowhead, Avondale, Goodyear and Tempe. In New Mexico we serve the areas of Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, White Rock, Alamogordo, Truth or Consequences and more. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment with an attorney in your area!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.