Probate court has gotten somewhat of a bad reputation across the country.
Many people in the Greater Memphis area on both sides of the state line may want to avoid it because they think it is expensive and time-consuming.
Indeed, probate proceedings can cost a lot in court fees and other expenses. It also may take months or even years to finalize an estate that goes through probate.
As the case proceeds, family members may have to prepare for and attend court hearings depending on the situation.
Probate is also a public court process, meaning that members of the public have the ability to peer into a family’s financial and personal details if they so wished.
If someone has a lot of assets or a special situation, then it will take some time and effort to put together and then enforce an estate plan. The real question is whether someone wants to invest in this effort up front by having at least some of their estate avoid probate.
It is also important to remember that a probate court proceeding does not have to be contentious. On the other hand, there can be trust and estate litigation even if there is no probate case. Avoiding probate does not mean avoiding arguments.
What sort of strategies can help me avoid probate?
An eastern Tennessee or northern Mississippi resident should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to evaluate how important it is for them to avoid probate.
If the person should avoid probate, the attorney can also help them decide the best strategy for doing so.
Speaking generally, some families may be able to use jointly-held real estate, bank accounts and other joint property to avoid probate.
Property that passes by designation, like life insurance proceeds and retirement benefits, also pass to loved ones outside the probate process.
In other cases, it may be best for a family to consider a trust or other arrangement that will bypass the probate process.