Avoid Probate and Prevent the Government from Intruding into Your Family’s Private Affairs

By: Daniel A. Perry

Our office speaks with many families everyday regarding their estate planning goals and concerns. This is one of the most common concerns amongst our clients:

“I Want the Government to Stay Out of My Family’s Private Lives After I’m Gone”

Most of us can relate to this statement. We work all our lives to save money and provide for our family. Then after we pass away, our entire lives become public record through the probate court system. Everything that we own, everyone we owe money to, and everyone who is inheriting from us becomes public record.

However, there are simple steps you can take to avoid the probate court system altogether and ensure that the government stays out of your private life after your gone.

1. Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

This is a good starting point. An attorney will be able to speak with you, listen to your family situation, and determine the legal strategy and estate plan that will work best for your family.

2. Establish a Revocable or Irrevocable Living Trust

One of the most common misconceptions about estate planning is that if you are not super wealthy, you do not need a trust. However, this is simply not true. We are finding that many of our clients are utilizing trusts to control what they own and prevent unnecessary government intrusion. If you die with a last will and testament or without a last will and testament, everything you own, everyone you owe money to, and who is inheriting your property will be subject to the public probate court system. The process will take anywhere from six months to two years before the entire probate estate is settled, and the assets are distributed to the surviving family members.

However, when you have a trust (either revocable or irrevocable) and your assets have been properly retitled into the name of that trust, upon your death, all your assets will be distributed in accordance with the customized provisions of that trust. In addition, the entire estate settlement process is private. There is no public probate court system that you are required to go through. Finally, and usually most important, the entire estate settlement process is completed much quicker.

3. Make Sure Your Assets Are Properly Retitled into the Name of Your Trust

The most important aspect of creating a trust is ensuring your assets have been retitled into the name of your trust. If you fail to retitle your assets into the name of your trust, then the trust is meaningless. Even though you have a trust, if your assets were not retitled, the trust will be administered through the public probate court system. All the advanced planning will be for nothing. The lesson here is to make sure all your assets are properly retitled into the name of your trust.

For more Information

Avoiding the government from intruding into your family’s private lives after your death can be a simple process, but it takes initiative, action, and advanced planning. If you have questions on how to plan your estate, then please contact our office for a complimentary visit so that we can discuss your estate planning needs.

We look forward to hearing from you!