You have probably spent a lifetime building up your assets and a considerable amount of time deciding which of those assets to gift to which beneficiaries. To ensure that loved ones are financially secure in your absence, you also created a comprehensive estate plan. All this planning is undoubtedly essential; however, your entire plan could be derailed if you have not considered how long your beneficiaries will have to wait for their inheritance. The Essex Junction estate planning attorneys at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC explain how long it will take a beneficiary to receive an inheritance in Vermont.
How Probating an Estate Can Hold Up Distribution of Assets
Ensuring that your spouse, children, or other loved ones are financially secure if something were to happen to you is likely a primary estate planning concern. Including sufficient gifts to your loved ones in your Last Will and Testament should achieve that goal, right? Maybe not. You may be making a very common mistake counting on assets gifted in your Will to provide for loved ones right after your death.
Assets gifted in your Will typically need to go through the formal probate process before they can be released to the intended beneficiary. Even if you co-owned accounts and/or jointly owned property, those assets may still be inaccessible until the conclusion of probate, depending on how they were jointly owned. Furthermore, probating even a relatively modest estate without complex assets can take months, even years. In Vermont, creditors of the estate have four months after publication of the notice of probate within which to file a claim against the estate. This means that practically speaking it will take a minimum of six months for almost any estate to make it through the probate process. The more valuable and/or complex your estate assets are the longer it is likely to take to get through probate. If your estate is involved in litigation (such as a Will contest), it will take even longer to reach the end of the probate process.
How Can I Make Sure My Loved Ones Receive Assets Immediately?
Although probate is often required following a death, not all assets are required to go through the probate process. Careful estate planning that includes probate avoidance tools and strategies can help you achieve your primary goal of providing for your loved ones in your absence.
The most important probate avoidance tool, is a trust. Unlike gifts made in your Will, assets held in a trust do not go through probate. Consequently, the terms of the trust agreement can dictate that those assets be disbursed as soon after your death as you choose and to as many beneficiaries as you designate. Moreover, a trust can also provide incapacity planning benefits as well as be used to protect the inheritance of a minor child until he/she reaches the age of majority. If immediate access for beneficiaries to money or assets is important, talk to your estate planning attorney about incorporating a trust into your estate plan.
Contact Essex Junction Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please attend one of our upcoming FREE webinars. If you have questions or concerns about how to make sure your beneficiaries receive their inheritance as soon as possible, contact the experienced Essex Junction estate planning attorneys at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC by calling 802-879-7133 to schedule your appointment today.