Avoiding probate can help family members and friends skip a sometimes frustrating and time-consuming process. Probate is a Court guided process by which a descendant’s last expenses and debts are paid and the remaining property is distributed to family or other designated beneficiaries. The Oklahoma Bar Association estimates that most probates take between six months to a year to complete. One common misconception is that wills do not need to be probated. This is not true. Probate is not avoided with a will. However, there are several alternatives that do avoid probate.
One of these options is the living trust. A living trust holds title to property which allows for the property to be transferred outside of probate. Although property is transferred to the trust, most people will not notice any difference in managing their property once it is held by the trust. Furthermore, there are generally no administrative costs once the trust is created and property is transferred (although there may be the need to make amendments, similar to a will).
Another option is to appropriately title property so that it passes to designated beneficiaries upon death. A few examples of this are Payable on Death Accounts and Beneficiary Designation Forms.
Regardless of which option you choose, Elwell & Spain can help you create an estate plan that avoids the need for probate.