If you're reaching retirement age, now's the time to make sure that your house is in order. If you don't have an iron-clad estate plan yet, this is the time to get that taken care of, especially if you want to avoid probate issues once you're gone. It's important to note that the probate process doesn't need to be stressful. In fact, with careful planning, the probate process can be eliminated altogether. If you want to make things as stress-free as possible for your surviving family members, read the list provided below. Here are four simple steps that will keep your estate out of the probate courts.
Hire a Probate Lawyer
Estate planning doesn't need to be difficult, but it does need to be thorough. One of the best ways to ensure that you have a thorough estate plan is to hire a probate lawyer. Probate lawyers know how to identify the issues that can get caught up in probate court. They can go through your estate plan and identify any mistakes you might have made.
Close all the Estate Gaps
If you want to make sure that your estate plan stays out of probate court, it's time to close all of the gaps. Those are the areas that can cause the biggest headaches for your loved ones once you're gone. First, make sure that all of your assets are listed in the estate plan. Second, make sure you have documentation for all of your assets. Finally, have your probate lawyer go over your will to ensure that all loopholes have been closed.
Focus on Record-Keeping
When it comes to preparing a probate-proof estate plan, many people forget about record-keeping. Unfortunately, problems with record-keeping are some of the quickest ways to get an estate plan into probate court. To avoid this issue, it's important that you focus your attention on maintaining up-to-date records. It's also important that you keep those records in a safe and secure location. That way, everything is in one location when it's time to process your estate plan. Be sure to let your probate lawyer know where your records are kept. That way, they can be accessed quickly.
Involve the Family Members
Finally, if you want to help your family avoid probate court, be sure to involve them in the process. That doesn't mean that they need to help you create your estate plan. However, it is important that you let them know what provisions you've included in your estate. That way, there are no surprises once you're gone. The fewer the surprises, the less likely it is that your family will have to take your estate plan to court.
For additional help with your state planning, contact a probate attorney in your area.