When a person's parent or spouse dies, managing their estate is probably one of the last things on the person's mind. However, once immediate issues are dealt with and initial grief has subsided, this person may realize that the parent or spouse's estate needs to be managed.
In many situations, family members may find that their parent or spouse did not lay out his or her estate in such a way so that probate could be avoided. So, the family member spends a great deal of time and money in probate court, waiting for the parent or spouse's estate to be settled.
By the time this estate is settled and family members receive any assets they were given, the family members involved in probate court probably have a new perspective on estate planning and probate administration. So, when it comes time for this family member to create a will and lay out an estate plan, he or she will probably do everything possible to simplify the process for potential beneficiaries.
The terms probate, estate planning, and trust are likely confusing for many people. However, as they are so significant to a person's assets, understanding them clearly is important. A person can potentially avoid having one's children or spouse deal with a lengthy period of time in probate court by carefully setting up an estate plan.
The probate process can be quite complicated. So, a person creating an estate plan will want to make sure it is done properly. Consulting an estate planning attorney is a smart way to plan ahead and avoid probate. Time and money are both very valuable and an experienced estate planning attorney may save you from spending both in probate court.
Source: Forbes, "10 common estate planning myths that can be detrimental to your family," Erik Carter, Oct. 3, 2012