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Does a Living Trust Help Avoid Probate?

by | Jan 6, 2022 | Articles, Estate Planning

No one wants to talk about what happens after your death, but it’s important to prepare for this as early as possible, so you can move forward in life with greater peace of mind. One of the most important topics you need to discuss is the probate process, which can present obstacles to your family through delays, expenses, and fees.

If you want to ensure your loved ones avoid the delays and expenses that come with probating a will, then setting up a living trust can keep your family from having to go through a time-consuming court process for your estate.

What is Probate?

Probate refers to the process of settling your estate in the county court. It has two main purposes:

  1. Collecting, and liquidating or selling your assets.
  2. Paying your final debts and expenses and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

What Happens in Probate?

In a typical probate situation, when someone dies, the executor will have to open an estate with the county register of wills, be sworn in, and notify beneficiaries and creditors among other duties.  The executor will also be required to file an inventory of the estate’s assets with the court. This report will be a public document, which means that anyone can see it.

The probate process is also subject to many delays, such as court schedules, working with and notifying beneficiaries, court approval of the sale of certain property or real estate, and the filing of an inventory and final accounting.

What is a Living Trust?

A living trust is a particular type of trust that allows you as the grantor to maintain control while you are alive, and name an individual or individuals to act on your behalf while you are incapacitated and after you pass away.  These trust have a great deal of flexibility but are powerful tools when it comes to bypassing the probate process.  Rather than going through the process of being appointed by the court and following the many steps required for probate, the successor trust simply steps into your shoes, pays any creditors, and distributes the property according to the trust terms.

There are many benefits to using a living trust as a way to avoid probate, here are a few:

Benefit #1: Offer Continued Control

With a living trust, you can control when and how your beneficiaries or family members access your assets over the course of their lifetime. This means that you can influence and control when and how your assets are distributed, and can protect from issues like creditors, divorce, alcohol and drug dependency, and poor money management.

Benefit #2: Guarantee Privacy

With a living trust, you can keep your assets safe from prying eyes. A living trust is not filed with the court, and there is no inventory that becomes a public record; therefore, it can ensure that your assets stay hidden from public access.

Benefit #3: Save Time

By setting up a trust, you can save your family the time and headache of going through probate. This will let them access your assets immediately, which is especially useful if there is an emergency or when a spouse or young children depend on your money or assets for their living expenses.

Benefit #4: Protect Your Beneficiaries

If you have dependents or family members who are minors, setting up a trust is one way to ensure your assets are protected from being drained by a guardian or conservator by adding additional instructions on when and how the funds can be spend, and further preserving the assets for your children’s future use.

Benefit #5: Preserve the Value of Your Estate

By preserving your assets in the living trust, you can help to maximize their value

The Bottom Line: Why It’s Worth Setting Up a Living Trust

Believe it or not, there are several advantages to setting up a living trust. Not only does it allow you to exercise control over your assets and property during your lifetime, but it also gives your family a less complicated way to handle your estate after your death.

Setting up a trust is not expensive and it can be done as part of your estate planning process, the main thing you need to focus on is finding an estate planning attorney in your area that can support you through the trust-creation process.

How Can Cherewka Law Help You?

If you’re looking for a probate lawyer in Cumberland County, PA, you’ve come to the right place. Cherewka Law offers highly personalized planning services in estate planning, business, nonprofit, and real estate. Do you need legal assistance? Set an appointment with us today!

To learn more about trusts, check out our other article: What is a Trust and why would I need one? 

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