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Avoiding Probate: A Critical Message That You Really Need to Hear Now

You’ve worked ridiculously hard to achieve your dreams and plan sensibly for the future. Furthermore, you’re almost certainly overwhelmed by the various inputs coming into your world. We’re all busier than ever, facing interruptions from social media, from our work, from family obligations and beyond. While it’s perfectly fine to spend some time just reacting to events and cleaning up from our commitments, we also need to spend time in what productivity author Steven Covey once described as Quadrant II activities. In Covey’s vernacular, these activities refer to things that are Not Urgent But Important.

It’s easy to handle Urgent, Important things (like a phone call from your boss or doctor). And it’s easy, too, to get distracted by the Non Important business of life (like a viral YouTube clip or the third season of Stranger Things). But if we fail to handle the Not Urgent But Important work of our lives, the consequences will be less than ideal.

To that end, let’s talk about a challenging subject: how and why to avoid probate for your estate. To unpack this topic, we need to address a few fundamental questions:

What is probate?

When you pass on, probate is the legal process by which the court system authenticates your will (if you have one), appoints someone known as a “personal representative” to handle the business of your estate, and settles your affairs by paying your bills, filing taxes for your estate, and transferring what’s left to your family, charities that you love, and other beneficiaries.

Why should you avoid it?

Three big reasons: 1) It’s a public process, so it exposes intimate details about you, your finances, your business and your family; 2) It can consume lots of time (months or longer), annoying and tiring out your family and possibly generating fights or even court action; 3) It can cost a pretty penny and eat up as much as 15 percent (or more) of your estate’s value.

How can you avoid probate?

First off, appreciate that only assets that are in your name or that can be payable to your estate will be probated. One useful strategy is to create and fund something called a revocable living trust to allow the assets in this trust to bypass the probate process and make life simpler for everyone involved with handling your estate.

If you’re interested in learning more about strategies and tactics you can leverage to simplify this planning – and in crossing off one critical Quadrant II task from your list – we are standing by to help. Please call or email us today to set up a private consultation.

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