You should hire the services of an experienced estate planning attorney to avoid probate. Probate can be time consuming and costly. Estate planning attorney can help you draft a valid will and avoid probate. This can prove to be a big benefit for your heirs after your death. In the absence of a valid will, the state law will determine the share of each heir.
The legal title of your estate will pass to your beneficiaries only after it has been through probate. If you die leaving behind a will, the probate court must determine if your will is valid. If you die intestate, i.e. without a will, then the probate court will determine the distribution of your estate according to the intestate laws of your state. The cost of probate is determined by state law. If your estate has to go through probate, then your family members will have to pay probate fees. However it is possible to legally minimize or avoid the cost of probate. Probate can be time consuming.
Probate fees become payable on when an asset transfers up on the death of the owner. So if you transfer an asset while you are alive, it will not be subject to probate. If you distribute all your assets before you die, you there will be no estate left on your death and there will be nothing left to probate.
One perfectly legally way of avoiding probate and the associated costs is to create a trust. You can transfer your assets to a trust for the benefit of a beneficiary – your spouse, children, parents, close friends, etc. You can create a separate trust for each of them and transfer the asset you wish to give them on your death to respective trust. Once an asset is transferred to a trust, it is not longer part of your estate and will not be subject to probate.
If you register a property in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, then such property will not be included in your estate. Up on your death, it will become the property of the surviving joint owner without having to go through probate. Life insurance policies in which the benefits pass directly to a named beneficiary upon the death of the insured also need not go through probate.
Having multiple wills is another way of avoiding probate costs. You will require the assistance of probate lawyers to do this. Generally the assets that require probate are listed in the primary will. Assets that do not have to go through probate are included in a secondary will. Only the primary will is submitted for probate. The probate fee will be calculated on the basis of the assets listed in the primary will.
Probate can also result in tax complications, disputes amongst family members, etc. When you hire the services of an experienced estate planning attorney, you can avoid the complications associated with probate. You may think hiring an experienced estate planning attorney to draft your will may be costly but it will be cheaper than the consequences of not having a valid will.