In the sixth video of the Coronavirus Preparedness Series, Wes Coulson discusses steps you can take to avoid probate.
You’re going to hear me a lot in these videos, and other videos, talking about wanting to avoid probate. I make it sound bad I guess I ought to explain to you what probate is, and why it is you really want to avoid it.
Probate is the process that speaks to the question of, first, that dead people can’t own property and dead people are immune from collection for bills, so there has to be some orderly process for getting that done. You can impose that orderly process through your own documents, particularly if you have a living trust that keeps things out of probate. But other than that, probate is the legal process for getting things done.
Now as to why it’s so expensive and time consuming, I want you to understand the dilemma the legislature faced when they’re putting this set of laws into place. Either they could make the process easy, simple, and trust that everybody’s honest, and if they did that, any crook who wanted to get away with it would be able to succeed in getting away with it, because there weren’t any rules that said that they couldn’t.
Or, and guess where they went’ with this, they have to assume that everybody, whenever somebody dies, that everybody is crooks that are just trying to steal the money and leave creditors high and dry, so they impose a bunch of rules that are going to make sure that that doesn’t happen if in fact it is a den of thieves in charge of taking care of things.
So, you have a process where things need to be done under court supervision, where you have to make sure creditors are identified, have six months to file claims, that anybody who wants to contest a will has six months to come forward. So that means you get to the starting gate to get to court, and it is a bare minimum of six months before any beneficiaries of the estate can see the first dollar of money out of it, except in some very unusual and expensive circumstances.
I’m going to make an assumption talking to you here, that you and your family are not a bunch of crooks, that you just want an orderly and efficient process to get things done, and the way to get that is to plan your estate so you are not setup for this probate process.
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