Death Comes Unannounced

Death does not come to everyone in their bed, at the end of a long, happy life. No one ever wants to think about the fact that death can come at any time—and for good reason. Still, when it comes as an unexpected blow, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is a complicated legal procedure.

Unfortunately, that is exactly the situation that many people have to face when a loved one dies, and no plan has been set in place. It is a common misconception that things like Estate Planning and drafting a will are only for the elderly; it is just as important, if not more so, for the young and healthy.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to minimize the time and expense involved in the process, or to avoid probate altogether.

First, there is the will. Though the will still must go through probate, there are several advantages to having one.

  • You may save on costs by waiving bond, naming your PR, and minimizing some death taxes.
  • You decide who will receive your property and assets, and in what amounts.
  • You can determine whether or not you want to make anatomical gifts, upon your death.
  • You can nominate a guardian for your minor children, if applicable, and provide for minor and/or disabled children by setting up a trust.

There are also several different types of Trusts. The biggest advantage of a trust is that trusts do not have to go through probate. Keep in mind, however, that trusts are not a substitute for a will; it’s still a good idea to have both.

  • Any property or asset held in a trust does not have to go through probate; therefore, the value of that property isn’t included when calculating attorney and PR fees, which can save quite a bit of money.
  • The administration of a trust is private; you do not have to publish a notice to creditors, and the amounts of property and assets, as well as the identity of beneficiaries, are private.
  • Property held in a trust can usually be dispersed shortly after death, and court approval is not necessary to sell property in the trust, avoiding much of the delay associated with probate.

Death is not something that anyone wants to plan for. It can be frightening—but it doesn’t have to be. Setting a plan in place now can greatly minimize the stress and hassle involved, allowing loved ones to mourn, and move on, rather than spending months or years reliving the loss as they deal with the complex legal process of probate.