How A Lawyer Can Save Your Family From An Expensive Probate Process

Family consulting notary public at office

Probate is a legal process that’s been stereotypically tagged as expensive and time-consuming. In a data released by LegalZoom, this costs approximately $2 billion annually, with around $1.5 billion shelled out on hiring a probate attorney Ashburn VA. But fret not, because there are actually different ways on how to save yourself from this often-stressful situation.

Probate 101

The most basic definition of probate is the court-supervised process of property or estate transferring upon an individual’s death. Fundamentally, it involves several, complicated events — from collecting the decedent’s probate property and paying any debt or taxes he or she owes to settling disputes and finally distributing what remains to the rightful heirs. The timeline of all these stages run for at least a year.

Apart from consuming a lot of time, this process also entails fees, as previously stated. Though executor fees are commonly waived (as he or she is bound to inherit something from your property), it is the fees of a probate attorney Ashburn VA that’s typically costly. In some states, this fee is based on a percentage of the property that is being probated. For example, in a basic estate with a gross value amounting to $400,000, the attorney will get $20,000.

The executor and attorney’s fees come on top of other probate costs, which include court costs and appraiser’s fees among others.

How to Avoid the Probate Process

With these said, you might now be thinking on how to avoid the expensive probate process. Did you know that hiring a lawyer as early as now can save you thousands? Here are some ways how they can be of great help.

Revocable Living Trusts

Instead of hiring a probate attorney Ashburn VA, getting the services of a trusted estate planning attorney today can be a much wiser choice. Nowadays, these legal experts also assist their clients in funding their assets into a revocable living trust — besides their main job of making pertinent documents about your estate planning project.

By creating a living trust, your properties are being transferred to a trustee, who will now be responsible in holding (read: owning) it for your benefit. As the estate does not belong to you anymore, the probate process can be entirely avoided. Upon death, you can instruct the trustee to distribute your belongings to your heirs without undergoing probate.

Joint Property Ownership

Another option is having jointly owned properties. Upon death, the decedent’s property will be passed on to the living joint owner.

In most cases, a joint ownership is declared through a written document. The three main ways of jointly owning an estate are: 1) joint tenancy with a right of survivorship (the survivor will have full ownership once the other party passes away) 2) tenancy by entirety (available to married couples) and 3) community property.

Death Beneficiaries

In case you aren’t aware of it yet, you are entitled to designate a beneficiary to most of your financial assets, e.g. Retirement accounts, upon your death. As the ownership is transferred to your beneficiary, these properties are therefore exempted from the probate process.

A probate process can be very expensive. Let Dominion Legal PLC’s probate attorney Ashburn VA assist you. Contact us today so we can discuss the details.