How a Living Trust can Help You Avoid Probate
The term, “probate” is scary for many people. They immediately think of courts taking away property or other horror stories that have been misinterpreted over time. The simple definition of probate is the legal process courts use to confirm a Last Will is valid, settle the estate’s debts, and then distribute the assets. A Long Island probate lawyer can attest to the fact that it can be a time-consuming and tedious process. For most families, it can take anywhere from three months to a year to complete the entire process. During this time, beneficiaries don’t have access to the assets or property even though the will designated it should go to them.
The probating process requires an executor to settle all the outstanding debts against the estate before the assets are distributed to beneficiaries.
The Different Levels of Probate
It’s best to discuss your specific situation with a Long Island probate lawyer. But typically, there are two levels of probate. If a person does not have a last will and testament when they die, and their estate is of substantial value, probate proceedings are necessary. Beneficiaries can end up spending a lot of time and money seeing it through to settlement. Costs such as attorney fees, executor fees, and court costs incurred during the proceedings are paid out of the estate.
Depending on the value of the estate, there may be other options. For instance, an estate that doesn’t exceed a value pre-determined by the state, can avoid probate. The proceedings may also be simplified in these situations. But many people don’t’ like the courts making decisions for them or their family. In rare instances, the probate court can release short-term funds to beneficiaries during the process. This is definitely not guaranteed, nor is it typically. But it does occur. Another way to escape the long drawn out legal process is to have a Living Trust.
How a Living Trust Helps You Avoid Hiring a Long Island Probate Lawyer
During the probate process, a probate lawyer in Long Island works with the courts to take inventory of all the assets and property of the deceased. Property is appraised so assets can be used to pay off debts or taxes held against the estate. Once the taxes and debts are taken care of, anything remaining is distributed to the beneficiaries. A Living Trust prevents this process because the person is able to place all of their assets and property into the trust. The living trust is essentially now the owner of everything. The person who formed the trust continues to maintain control on behalf of the trust. They become the trustee.
Upon the formation of the trust, beneficiaries are designated. In most cases, these are the children, or other family members of the person forming the trust. If something happens to the trustee, the assets transfer to the beneficiaries. The person who creates the trust appoints someone to act on their behalf if something happens to them. The individual assumes the responsibilities then of administering the trust.
Advantages of a Living Trust
There are numerous advantages to this type of setup including:
A living trust allows for the transfer of property without needing to go through the court system or hire a Long Island probate lawyer.
Transferring assets is quick and doesn’t require fees.
Since there are no open court proceedings, the transfer of all assets remains private.
What’s the Difference Between a Living Trust and a Will?
The primary difference between a will and a living trust is that a living trust is its own legal entity. It contains all the assets and property. A last will simply designates the intentions of the estate holder and describes how they wish to distribute their assets and property after they die. This is the process that requires the help of a Long Island probate lawyer and has to go through the court system. However, a living trust can avoid all of this since it has already legally established an owner of the assets and property. The beneficiary is already established, and the legal recipient of the property and assets contained in the living trust.
Contact a Probate Lawyer in Long Island
Contact us if you have any questions about setting up a living trust and how it can help you avoid time-consuming probate proceedings.