Making a stressful time a little easier

If you’re settling the affairs of a recently deceased loved one, you’ll probably have way too much to worry about. Although it’s possible to avoid probate altogether, doing so might not be in the best interests of your loved ones’ heirs. Before deciding on a course of action, weigh your options.

Common Means of Avoiding Probate

Individuals who have relatively simple estates may be able to avoid probate for most or all of their assets by establishing a living trust that creates a “chain of succession” upon the estate-holder’s death. A trust can be set up to manage just about any assets, including physical property and investments.

It’s also possible to avoid probate for specific assets or interests by setting up a joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety arrangement. This is especially useful for avoiding a potentially messy fight over a stake in a business, piece of real property or non-traditional investment. Since it would be impractical to set up a joint tenancy arrangement to cover an entire estate, this method probably won’t help you avoid probate entirely.

Specialized Tactics for Specific Assets

Certain classes of assets can be protected from probate by transfer-on-death arrangements that immediately shift the specified assets to a named beneficiary upon the original holder’s death. This arrangement may work for bank accounts, securities, real estate and even vehicles.

Simplified Probate

In Indiana, small estates may qualify for simplified probate proceedings that don’t need to be directly supervised by a judge and may not require the assistance of a legal professional. However, there are important restrictions that could affect your eligibility for this arrangement. These are spelled out in Indiana’s legal code.

Advantages and Drawbacks

Avoiding probate seems like a good deal, and it’s certainly true that doing so saves some time and stress. However, using the methods outlined above may engender legal disputes between heirs and beneficiaries who feel slighted. Additionally, failing to consult with a legal professional before or during probate can create dangerous “gray areas” that lead to similar disputes down the line.

Work With an Indianapolis, IN, Probate Law Firm That Has Your Interests in Mind

Although this guide is designed to help Indiana residents and their loved ones avoid the troublesome aspects of probate, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to steer clear of it completely. If your estate or that of a recently deceased relative is too big or complicated to be settled outside of the probate system, it’s important that you work with a trusted probate and tax professional. Give us a call at (317) 842-8283 or fill out our online contact form to learn more about what we do.