Wills and Probate
Last Will & Testament
Probably one of the easiest ways individuals begin to protect their estate and legacy is to create a last will and testament. This document doesn’t have to be lengthy, unless you have a considerable estate or are dividing your estate among a significant number of beneficiaries. Also, you should consider the reactions of your family and whether they may challenge the validity of your will.
While you may be comfortable leaving your estate on the lengthy and expensive probate court process, it is of great importance that you satisfy the specific legal requirements of a written will, and do not rely upon handwriting your own (which is not legally enforceable in most circumstances). We strongly encourage you to consider hiring an attorney to draft your last will and testament. We do not recommend non-lawyer drafting services or DIY, because if there is an error it will not be discovered until after your death and at that point, it is too late to correct.
The Probate Process
Probate is the legal process through which the court decides how your property will be divided. The amount of time and energy to complete the process of probate may be considerable for any estate. During that time, your heirs may find themselves without sufficient money to pay bills and support themselves, and many services such as insurance and utilities will not allow anyone access to your accounts, even for payment, until a court Order is obtained.
Forego the Probate Process
Wills do have to go through probate to transfer ownership of assets owned by the testator, or the person who wrote the will, to their living beneficiaries. Many states provide legal options for doing this through simplified procedures for smaller, limited asset estates. Taking the time to professionally draft a will ensures that your final wishes are followed and secures your estate for your heirs.