If you want your loved ones to receive their inheritances in a timely manner, you should be aware of the process of probate.
The executor that you choose must admit your last will to probate if you do in fact use a will to record your final wishes. Probate is a legal process, and it takes place under the supervision of a court.
The process of probate takes time. The exact length of time will vary depending on the circumstances.
State laws allow creditors a certain amount of time to come forward to seek satisfaction from the estate. If there is a challenge to the will, this would slow things down considerably. One jurisdiction may have a larger caseload than another. All of these factors influence the time frame.
In addition to the above, the nature of the estate itself is going to be a contributing factor. Let’s say that all the property that comprises the estate must be liquidated so it can be distributed among the heirs in certain percentages.
Liquidation is not necessarily going to take place overnight. Selling property at fair prices can take time.
Generally speaking, probate is going to take a number of months at minimum. There are cases that are held up in probate for years.
If you do not want to subject your family to the waiting period that goes along with the probate process, you have options. One of them is the creation of a revocable living trust.
Revocable living trusts are very popular because you do not surrender control of the assets while you are living. You can also account for the possibility of incapacity by naming a disability trustee who would manage the trust in the event of your incapacitation.
You are free to change the terms or revoke the trust entirely at any time. If you do keep the trust intact, the trustee that you name when you create the trust agreement will distribute the assets to the beneficiaries after you die outside of probate.
Because the probate court would not be involved, these distributions will take place in a timely manner. It should be noted that the trustee must follow the instructions that you leave behind in the trust agreement. You decide on the frequency and nature of the distributions when you create the agreement.
This is just one way to avoid probate, but there are others.
Preparing for Probate
If you are going to use a last will, you should certainly make sure that the document is prepared with the expectations of the Indiana probate courts in mind. You can be certain that the device will hold up in court if you work with a licensed probate attorney when you are creating the document.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.