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Save Time and Money: Steps to Help You Avoid Probate

Effective estate planning will ensure the speedy transfer of your assets to your heirs in accordance to your wishes.  Now is the time to determine what you would like to happen to your property when you pass away so that you can save your heirs a significant amount of time and money.

What is Probate?

After you pass away, your property and possessions undergo a process that includes the distribution and settlement of your assets according to the terms of your will.  This is known as probate litigation.  Many people believe that having a will is sufficient in order to avoid probate but all of the assets that you own individually and intend to pass on to beneficiaries are subject to the probate process.

Why Avoid Probate?

Probate is generally a slow and time-consuming procedure, and can take up to three years to resolve.  This is a long time for your loved ones to wait, especially if they need the income from your estate.  The probate process can become even more difficult if your will is being contested by your heirs.

In addition to the cumbersome process, probate is costly.  The potential expense of probate grows with the size of the estate.

How to Avoid Probate

The good news is that there are steps you can take now to ensure that your estate avoids probate.  Here’s how:

  • Create a Revocable Living Trust:
    • Work with your estate planning attorney to draft a living trust. This will allow your trustee to transfer your assets to your loved ones without going through the probate process.  Using a trust will allow you to facilitate the timely distribution of your property and help to save money on inheritance fees.
  • Establish Joint Ownership
    • Establishing joint ownership is an easy way to avoid probate because jointly owned property automatically passes on to the surviving owner. Joint ownership can be established in a number of ways; speak with your attorney to determine the best approach for your situation.
  • Gifting Property
    • If you have a large estate, you can avoid federal government taxes if you give away sufficient assets ahead of time. Gifting property while you are alive will allow your heirs to avoid the probate process.  Keep in mind, there are certain tax consequences and limitations involved when you gift assets.  Work with your estate planning lawyer to determine how to structure your gifts in a way that is best for your situation.

We Can Help

The process of transferring your assets to your loved ones can be time consuming and costly.  Working with a trusted estate planning attorney in Pittsburgh will ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to simplify and expedite the process.

To discuss your specific needs and to find out how a Pittsburgh probate lawyer can help you please call us at Fingeret Law at 412-254-8533 or contact us online.