Probate: what to expect and how to avoid it

When planning for the future, many Louisiana adults fail to consider how their plans will affect beneficiaries and loved ones when it is time to settle their estate. While most estate plans are made with the best of intentions, it is possible some assets will have to go through probate. This process may be necessary, but it is sometimes avoidable with careful and thoughtful planning.

Probate is the legal process of validating a will, paying off remaining debts associated with the estate and distributing assets according to the terms of the will. During probate, the executor of the will is in charge of overseeing the process, subject to the court’s supetrvision, and making sure necessary steps are completed. The executor alerts creditors about the death, gathers assets and values assets in the estate.

This process can take a long time to complete, and there are expenses associated with probate as well. Probate can last as long as a few months or it can take years to complete if there are disputes with the will and other complications. One way to avoid probate is to leave assets for a specific purpose by establishing a revocable living trust. Assets held in a trust do not go through probate, nor do assets passed outside of a will.

Every estate is different, and estate plans should be crafted to suit the unique needs and goals of the individual. When crafting these plans, it may be helpful to speak with an attorney regarding how to avoid probate. With the appropriate legal and financial protections in place, a Louisiana adult can look to the future with confidence.