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Can You Avoid Probate?

Everyone should have an estate plan in place to provide instructions and direction for your loved ones following your death. The best thing you can do now is prepare for how your estate will be handled following your death. A comprehensive estate plan will give you peace of mind that your loved ones will know your intentions and will have an easier time resolving your financial matters. An experienced estate planning attorney will assist you in creating an estate plan that will make the distribution of your assets and property less stressful for those you leave behind.

What is Probate?

Probate is a process in which the courts oversee the distribution of property following your death. The process gathers property and assets and distributes it to the beneficiaries you name in your will. The probate process can be complex and lengthy in some cases. Sometimes there are questions and your assets might not always be distributed as you intended, particularly if you do not have a will. Planning ahead is the key to ensuring that your loved ones will receive their inheritance in the fastest and easiest manner possible. It is helpful to understand how to avoid probate or streamline the process for your loved ones.

Does Having a Will Avoid Probate?

Many people think that simply having a will in place will prevent loved ones from going through probate. While a will is an essential part of an estate plan, it does not eliminate probate. Your will does several important functions. It controls how your assets will be distributed, so you will be sure that your loved ones get your property and belongings. A will is also essential in establishing a guardian for minor children. If you do not have a will, Wisconsin intestate laws take over. Your loved ones will be at the mercy of these laws to determine what they get, or if they receive anything after your death.

Tips for Streamlining the Probate Process

There are some types of assets that do not have to go through the probate process in Wisconsin. Some of these include:

Life insurance, retirement accounts and annuities that have specific beneficiary designationsAssets that are owned jointly with another personMarital propertyProperty in a revocable trustAssets such as real estate with a transfer on death or pay on death designationAssets that are transferred as part of a marital property agreement.

It is important to consult with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to develop an estate plan that will be beneficial to your heirs. Your attorney knows how to handle various types of assets and property so they do not need to go through the probate process. This will greatly improve the way your loved ones get your assets and reduce the stress and costs associated with the distribution of your property. With a good plan in place, you can rest assured that your loved ones will be taken care of properly.

To learn more about estate planning and probate, contact our legal team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. to discuss your needs.

Published April 28, 2020
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