Navigating the probate process

As you go through the estate planning process in Arizona, you will find that in order for you to pass property to someone else through a will, the property may have to go through probate. The trust and probate administration process can be complicated, but there are pros and cons to the process.

Probate often gets a bad reputation for being expensive and causing delays in the distribution of your assets. Additionally, probate court records are available to the public, so anyone can find out private information about your estate. While some states have made the probate process much easier, particularly for estates of lesser value, some experts still suggest avoiding the probate process if you can. Some assets, such as retirement accounts and annuities, avoid probate by operation of law. Another common way to avoid probate is to transfer assets to a revocable living trust.

However, the probate process does also have its advantages. By having all your estate distribution information available to the public, it is more likely that everyone will get everything they were supposed to get. By certifying title to the assets, the probate process makes it harder for people to challenge ownership.

You should know that a portion of your estate can go through probate while the other portion avoids it. Your decision to avoid probate will depend on a number of issues including privacy concerns, where you live, and disability planning. You may discuss your options with an estate planning attorney to find out whether avoiding probate is a reasonable option for you.

Source: Forbes, “7 Big Estate Planning Mistakes – Not Avoiding Probate,” Bob Carlson, Feb. 26, 2018