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Probate court distributes your assets and estate to your heirs according to your will, or according to inheritance laws. Unfortunately, depending on your unique estate, probate can also be a long and costly process for your loved ones, who would still be dealing with your loss. When you create a comprehensive estate plan, you can keep most of your Loris, NC estate out of probate court, ensuring that this process is much faster for your loved ones and keeping your assets preserved and protected for your heirs. Estate planning is only helpful if it is legally enforceable, so it’s helpful to create the plan with an attorney who can help tailor the documents to your personal needs and goals.
Estate planning and probate court are both ways to distribute your assets after your death, and you may be unsure of what fits your needs. The qualified attorneys at Axelrod & Associates can help with simple or complex and comprehensive estate plans and guide you through probate administration. Our attorneys have over 100 years of collective mediation and litigation experience across many fields of law. Estate plans can protect your assets, plan for your healthcare and life decisions at the end of your life, and protect your loved ones. We can help you understand these options for estate planning and what you need to have a sense of security about your future. We can also assist if you have lost a loved one and need to begin the process of probate administration.
Probate court values and categorizes the assets in an estate, which includes personal assets, real estate property, and any business interests. Creditors may make claims on the estate, and then the assets are distributed according to a will. If you don’t have a will, or you have a will that is not legally enforceable, then your assets will be distributed according to state inheritance laws.
Without a well-documented estate plan, your estate will enter probate court upon your death. A will can outline your wishes for your assets, but it does not keep them from probate.
When your entire estate passes through probate, your loved ones cannot immediately benefit from it. Instead, they have to wait until it is through probate court. This could potentially take up to a year or more. Your loved ones will have to deal with court costs during this time, when they should be able to grieve. These costs cut into the benefits they receive from your estate. Additionally, federal inheritance taxes and creditor claims will affect the inheritance you left for them. By creating an effective estate plan, you can avoid many of these costs.
Probate court also leaves more up to chance after your death. A will alone is much easier to contest than a will that is enforced by trust provisions. If your will is contested, the probate process may take significantly longer, and your wishes may be overturned. If your will is vague or unclear, probate can become contentious.
Estate planning also keeps your assets private. When your estate goes through probate, it becomes a matter of public record. Anyone who is interested can then find out what was in your estate.
When you work with an attorney to create an estate plan that addresses your goals, you can feel much more confident that your wishes will be followed. A comprehensive estate plan is more difficult to contest, and an attorney can help you address anything that may allow for will contests. A trust keeps assets from probate court and can reinforce the provisions of a will. A complete estate plan can also include powers of attorney to protect you if you are incapacitated. Your attorney can help you prevent future conflict and speed up probate for your family.
A: An estate generally takes 8 months to 1 year to settle. If all creditors are known, the executor will send out a written notice to the creditors, who then have 60 days to file their claim with the estate. If all creditors are not known, then a notice will be published in the newspaper, and creditors have 8 months to file a claim. This is why estates often take 8 months to settle, as debts must be paid prior to distributing assets and closing the estate. However, many other issues, such as will contests, claims of a breach of fiduciary duty, or unclear wills and trusts, can extend the process of settling an estate.
A: There are some assets that can avoid probate. These include:
In South Carolina, the assets that are subject to probate without proper estate planning include:
A: A living trust is the most effective way to protect assets, including a home, from probate. You can create a revocable living trust, meaning that it can be changed prior to your death, and name yourself the trustee. The successor trustee you name will become the trustee when you die, preventing the assets in the trust from passing into probate. The trustee will then be able to manage and distribute the assets.
A: In South Carolina, any estate and its assets enter probate court, except assets placed in a trust or other estate planning tool. Estates with a gross value under $25,000, with no real property, do not have to go through the typical probate court process. Instead, these estates qualify for a simplified probate process, which generally takes 1 to 2 months. The standard probate process is likely to take 8 to 12 months.
To begin determining what your goals are for the present and future of your estate, contact the attorneys with Axelrod & Associates.