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How Do Living Trusts Avoid the Probate Process?



What Can a Living Trust Accomplish?

It is not surprising that most people want to leave as much of their estates (assets, personal property, and real property) to their children and heirs as they possibly can when they die. Most people would also like to save their heirs the hassles of the probate process, which can tie up assets for a prolonged period, and the fees and costs that go along with it. The legal estate-planning tool of a living trust can help accomplish these twin aims.

The Probate Process

The probate process requires several steps. The process entails the inventorying of property, as well as the appraisal of that property. Probate also requires that debts and taxes be paid. Finally, during the probate process, the remainder of the property in an estate is distributed according to the provisions and directives in a will. The overall process can be time-consuming and costly, putting undue stress on surviving family members who are already grieving the loss of their loved one.

How a Living Trust Works

When a party creates a living trust, that party's surviving heirs are permitted to transfer estate property painlessly, quickly, and easily. This transfer of estate property by a party's heirs happens without ever triggering the probate process. As a result, more of a party's estate property that he or she devises or bequeaths is able to actually arrive in the hands of the heir that party designates to inherit and receive the property. The vehicle of a basic living trust permits a party to have his or her estate property avoid the probate process entirely, so that it might pass to his or her named beneficiaries and heirs which he or she designates in his or her will in a quick and efficient manner, without the costs and headache of the probate process. Incidentally, the probate process does require court proceedings in order to accomplish and complete same successfully.

How Do Married Couples Use Living Trusts?

A married couple can use a single basic living trust to accomplish all of their aims. The husband and wife need not each have a basic living trust. Rather, the single basic living trust for a married couple is able to handle and address co-owned property of the couple, as well as separate property of each spouse.