Estate planning can give you peace of mind for the future, allowing you to decide what will happen to your estate and property after you pass. It can also allow you to care for loved ones and beneficiaries through a will or a trust. Every estate plan is different, and you can draft yours to meet your individual needs and objectives.
For many Washington residents, one of the goals for their estate plans is to avoid the probate process. Probate can be a lengthy and complex process for beneficiaries to walk through after your passing, but there are ways you may be able to help them avoid it altogether.
What is probate?
Many people think that if they have a will, someone will distribute their assets and money to appropriate beneficiaries as soon as possible after they pass away. That is not necessarily the case. The process of administering an estate can be lengthy, and it can involve going through probate before everything can be resolved.
Probate is a specific process overseen by the court that involves distributing the property of an estate. It ensures that the administration of the estate goes according to the wishes of the decedent and makes certain all debts are paid. The following things happen during probate:
- Appointment one person to act as administrator of the estate
- Identification and locating of beneficiaries
- Inventory of all estate property, including physical assets and more
- Final payment of any remaining debts, including tax debts
- Distribution of estate property according to the will
Probate can be difficult to navigate when there are questions over the terms of the will, disputes over beneficiaries and other issues.
How can I try to avoid probate?
Probate can be difficult for beneficiaries, but there are ways you can avoid probate or ensure this process is very simple and streamlined. The size of your estate may be a factor, but including measures such as charitable gifts and trusts can also help.
If you want to ensure your loved ones do not have to walk through the probate process or you have specific goals you wish to accomplish with your estate plan, you may find it helpful to seek guidance as you work toward your goals. Estate planning is a beneficial process, and you would be wise to make the effort to ensure your plan meets your specific objectives.