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Probate isn't an evil word in estate planning

Probate is sometimes treated like the evil stepmother of estate planning, but that's a misconstrued perspective. Probate, in reality, is just part of the estate administration process. How much probate litigation impacts your estate in the end depends on how well you planned, how big your estate is and how your heirs accept -- or don't accept -- your wishes. Here are a few reasons probate isn't always something to fear.

In some cases, probate doesn't take that long. We often note that avoiding certain probate issues can save your heirs time and money, and that's true. But if you have a straightforward estate or a smaller estate without any contention on the part of heirs, probate can occur quickly. It's also not something you can 100 percent avoid all the time, and over complicating a simple estate to try to get out of probate sometimes puts the means before the ends.

Trusts can't accomplish everything you want in estate planning, and you might need to use diverse legal tools. Dropping all your assets into trusts to avoid probate could create even more obstacles for your heirs, defeating the purpose.

Probate requirements often mean that you ended life with assets still intact. Some people try to give away or use all their assets prior to death so probate isn't needed, but that comes with a lot of risks. What if you live longer than expected or your heirs aren't as cooperative with your property as you had hoped? Sometimes, handing on to some assets and letting them ride out probate is a better option.

Every estate is unique, so working with estate lawyer to understand how probate litigation might impact you or your heirs is important. A professional can help you know when it's good to avoid probate and when probate is just a fact of estate administration heirs will have to face.

Source: LifeHealthPro, "6 reasons why probate isn't that bad," Tom Nawrocki, accessed Jan. 06, 2017

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