A death in the family can be upsetting and stressful without the problem of probate. Unless the deceased person has taken some precautions through probate workarounds, their estate can be taken to probate. A will is not enough protection against the probate process, which varies from state to state. There are times when probate makes sense for New York-based estates and others when probate and estate planning are the best options.
What is probate?
Probate is a legal process during which your estate is split between your heirs. In theory, a will makes the probate process easier to handle. Probate is a time-consuming and expensive process for some people. Debts add to the probate issue because creditors will need to be paid off. Before death, many people look for probate and estate administration help to avoid financial penalties.
Should you choose probate?
In some cases, the use of probate makes sense for an estate. If the debts of the deceased are higher than the value of the estate, probate makes economic sense. The probate court has the responsibility to distribute funds between your creditors. In this way, probate protects against creditors suing your heirs.
Alternatives to probate
For some estates, the probate process is not a good idea. Taxes and fees can eat into the estate and diminish the financial benefits for the heirs. Probate workarounds include using transfer on death forms. Living trusts are created while you are alive and take control of your assets before your death. Living trusts can be changed at any time to convey your wishes about your estate.
Probate has benefits and problems for estates. Probate workarounds may be able to provide tax benefits.