avoid probate with a trust

What Makes a Trust the Best Choice to Avoid Probate

Jennifer Short Oct. 27, 2022

When a family member passes away, the last thing you want to be dealing with is paperwork. In an ideal situation, the legal concerns are so well handled in advance that you can grieve in peace. A significant goal of estate planning is to make the process of many things — transferring money, property, and legacies — as easy as possible for the next generation. Many people want to avoid putting their loved ones through the stress and expense of probate court.

To keep your money and property out of probate, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you:

  • Set up joint ownership of bank accounts and real estate titles

  • Set up life insurance policies with designated beneficiaries

  • Craft a unique trust tailored to your needs

Setting up a revocable living trust is often the best option to avoid probate. Let's explore why that is.

What is a trust?

A trust is a legal structure that owns your accounts and property or is named as the beneficiary of certain accounts and property. A trustee manages the trust on your behalf and behalf of your beneficiaries.

There are several types of trusts including irrevocable trusts and revocable living trusts. A living trust is established while you are still alive. You can manage it until you die or if until you’re unable to manage your financial affairs. At that point, your chosen backup trustee (also known as a successor trustee) will step up and assume responsibility for managing the trust. They are required to act in the best interest of you and your beneficiaries.

Why would you want to avoid probate?

Many Ohioans want to avoid probate for three reasons:

  1. Everything that goes into the Court becomes public record. This includes private financial documents and information about family disputes.

  2. Probate can be expensive. Even in the best case scenario, you can rack up hundreds of dollars in court, lawyer, executor, and filing fees. If there is any dispute over your estate, the cost to your family can build up into thousands of dollars.

  3. Probate takes a long time. In Ohio, the process usually takes about 6 months. Now, that’s if there’s no disputes involved. It can take longer depending on the value of your estates, number of beneficiaries, and complexity of your accounts. During this time, your beneficiaries won’t have access to the assets you left for them.

How can a trust help you avoid probate?

Probate is the legal process of transferring property, assets and accounts when you pass away. Probate deals with assets that are owned in your name only, without a beneficiary, pay-on-death, or transfer-on-death designation. A trust can bypass probate completely because:

  • either you transfer your accounts and assets to the trust while you're alive, or;

  • the trust is named as the beneficiary of your assets after you die.

In other words, there is no longer a need to get the Probate Court involved when you die. Everything is already in the trust or was transferred to the trust at your death. Thus, your assets are ready to be distributed to your intended beneficiaries. A trust can cover any type of account or property imaginable — from houses and land to jewelry and investments. With the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer, you can keep your affairs completely out of probate court. This process not only saves you money by limiting court costs, but it also protects your financial privacy while allowing your beneficiaries to receive their inheritance without any disruptions or delays.

Trusts can appear to be more complicated than wills at first, and they cost a bit more to set up. But, if you are willing to invest extra now, you can save your family hundreds to thousands of dollars later on.

To cut the likelihood of a long, difficult, and expensive process, work with qualified and trusted professionals. The experienced estate planning attorneys at DuPont & Blumenstiel care about you and your loved ones. We can tailor your documents to your unique needs. Give us a call today at 614-389-9711 to schedule a consultation.

Ready to get started? Check out our Consumer’s Guide to Estate Planning in Ohio.