Trying To Proactively Avoid Probate

Trying To Proactively Avoid Probate

Probate Lawyer

Every state sets its own regulations concerning the process of estate administration. Meaning, when someone dies – whether they leave a legally-enforceable estate plan behind or not – the management of their estate remains subject to the laws of the state. So, for example, if someone passes away in Tennessee, their estate must generally be subjected to a process known as probate. While there are ways to avoid having your estate subjected to probate, you must take these steps while you’re still in a position to do so.

Avoiding probate is a worthy goal, as it will keep your surviving loved ones from having to deal with the stresses and practical burdens associated with this process. While grieving the death of someone beloved, one of the last things you want to do is go to court to have the contents of their will proven or to have their assets subjected to the state’s interpretation of how they should be treated.

Avoiding probate not only affords you the peace of mind that comes with proper estate planning – knowing that your wishes will be respected once you’ve passed away – it also takes burdens off the shoulders of your loved ones during the time when grief is freshest and they are already dealing with all of the emotional, practical, and financial consequences of your recent loss.

How to Avoid Probate

As an experienced Knoxville, TN probate lawyer – including those who practice at Carpenter & Lewis PLLC – can confirm, there are few tools you’ll likely need to employ in order to avoid probate in Tennessee. The first involves opting for a revocable living trust instead of a will.

Most estate planning tools are known as “living documents.” This characterization means that they can be altered as many times during the creator’s lifetime as necessary in order to properly reflect the evolution of their needs, priorities, wishes, and circumstances. Some trusts, however, are irrevocable. This means that once they have been executed, they can’t be altered. Know that a revocable living trust may be altered. All too often, individuals shy away from the idea of creating a trust instead of a will because they’re under the impression that – once created – a trust will set their wishes in stone. This is a myth.

A revocable living trust may be altered or even “cancelled” during your lifetime. Generally, these trusts are set up to pay income from all assets placed within the trust to the creator during their lifetime. Upon the occasion of the creator’s death, all of the assets assigned to the trust will be paid to those named in the trust. This arrangement will allow your estate – as contained in the trust – to avoid probate because it has already been clearly established that you set up this arrangement purposefully and intended for your estate assets to avoid probate once you passed away.

You’ll also need to make sure that any financial and insurance accounts that require a named beneficiary have been addressed before your death as well. If you don’t name a beneficiary now, the court could intervene to decide who profits from those accounts.

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