The Vermont probate process happens after most deaths. However, it does not have to happen after every death. Many people decide to try to make a comprehensive estate plan which will allow their heirs to avoid the probate process. The estate planning steps you will need to take can become a little more complicated if the goal is to avoid probate, but taking these additional steps is often worthwhile.
If you are thinking about trying to avoid Vermont probate, you should talk with a Burlington estate planning lawyer as soon as you can. Your attorney can help you to determine if avoiding probate is the right thing for you to do and can provide you with the advice you need to use legal tools and financial planning to transfer assets outside of probate. To learn more, call Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC today.
Why Avoid Vermont Probate?
There are a lot of reasons why it may make sense for you to take estate planning steps in order to try to ensure your assets can pass outside of probate. Some of the reasons why you may want to avoid probate include:
- A more timely transfer of assets: The probate process can be very time consuming and stressful. Other methods of transferring assets can happen in a much more timely manner.
- Avoiding will contests: If you leave instructions in a will, it is possible the will could be contested. If the contest is successful, your wishes won’t be carried out. While it is possible for things like trusts (which are used to avoid probate) to be contested, it is less likely that the contest will be successful because of your ongoing involvement with the trust during your life. This means it is more likely your wishes will be respected.
- Saving costs: Probate costs money, especially if there are problems like a will contest. When you transfer assets outside of probate, you avoid the costs associated with probate so you have more money to leave to heirs.
These are just a few of the many possible reasons why it can make sense for you to take full advantage of legal tools to try to avoid the probate process. A Vermont probate lawyer can provide you with assistance in taking the necessary steps to avoid probate.
How Can You Avoid Vermont Probate?
You can avoid probate by working with a Vermont estate planning attorney to find other ways for assets to transfer to family members, friends, and charities after your death. For example, you can consider:
- Pay-on-death accounts or transfer on death accounts : Check with your financial institution to find out if you can add a pay-on-death provision to your account. You can specify that, upon your death, the account transfer directly to the designated person. This will happen outside of probate.
- Joint ownership: You can structure ownership of property and accounts so that the property automatically passes to co-owners upon your death. For example, if you take title to real estate as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, the real estate will transfer to the joint tenant who co-owns the property. This transfer will take place outside of probate.
- Life insurance: You can invest in a life insurance policy which has a designated beneficiary of your choosing. The death benefit will pay out to the designated beneficiary.
- Trusts: Trusts can be used to transfer assets through trust administration, instead of through probate. There are many different types of trusts.
It is important to realize that avoiding Vermont probate is not necessarily the same thing as avoiding estate taxes. For example, assets in a living trust will transfer outside of probate, but are still part of a taxable estate. If you want help with both estate tax avoidance and with making a plan to avoid probate, you need to speak with an attorney, discuss your goals, and explore your options.
Getting Legal Help from a Vermont Probate Lawyer
If avoiding probate is something that you think you may be interested in, you should talk with a Vermont probate lawyer right away to discover whether this option makes sense. Your attorney can evaluate your goals and your family and financial situation and advise you on whether avoiding probate is worth the effort. If you decide to make plans to ensure your estate transfers outside of probate, your lawyer can also offer you the assistance you need to make a comprehensive estate plan so probate won’t be needed.
Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC helps clients with all different types of estate plans, including those designed to avoid Vermont probate. We also provide representation after a death when the probate process is necessary. To find out more, you can join us for a free seminar that provides key details on the probate process in Vermont. You can also give us a call at (802) 879-7133 or contact us online so we can get started on your estate plan.