Avoiding Estate Probate with a Living Trust

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                                           Avoiding Estate Probate With a Living Trust
                                                              By Frank Rodriguez

    We have all heard the horror stories of probate. In fact, most infamously, the estate of the late Elvis
Presley was significantly reduced in value to probate taxation. Just because the King himself didn't
follow the proper estate planning procedures doesn't mean you should too. For good reason, it's a
good idea to avoid estate probate whenever possible. The good news is that it's not a difficult or
complicated thing to avoid probate.

 When it comes to clearing out your estate, the probate process can be both time-consuming and
costly. Even if you have a will set up, your estate must still go through the probate process. There are a
few ways to avoid this, most commonly setting up a living trust. A living trust can be a great way to
pass along assets without the long delays that are so commonly associated with the probate process.
There are a few more ways to avoid probate like life insurance, for example, but establishing a living
trust covers your entire estate.

 Establishing a living trust used to be a big ordeal. You have to find an attorney well versed in estate
planning issues that could draft you up a suitable living trust based on your situation. For obvious
reasons, things could get pretty expensive, pretty quickly. In the past, it was just easier to draw up a
simple will. But, it no longer has to be that way. He advances of the Internet have had a rather large
impact on our lives. These advances have made it much easier to research living trust issues. In fact,
you can do everything online now, from the research to setting up your custom living trust. And the
beauty of all this is that you don't have to pay an expensive attorney to just fill out forms on your behalf.
If you're like most of us that like to do things themselves, filling out simple forms is a great way to
reduce the costs associated with setting up a living trust. Taking this approach has the potential to
save you thousands of dollars, in fact. It's not at all unusual to see online services offering living trust
set-up for small fractions of what it used to cost.

 Setting up a living trust is one of the best ways to transfer your estate to another entity, but how do
they work? The individual that puts their property into the living trust is named the trustor. He trustee is
the individual that manages the assets and property. And of course, the individual or entity that
receives the benefits from a living trust is called the beneficiary. Most of the time, the trustor plays the
role of both trustee and trustor.

 A living trust has several advantages when compared to a will. A living trust allows anyone to be
chosen as the trustee. Also, when it comes to a will, a will is a matter of public record, where is a living

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trust is not. The costs associated with going through probate, with a will, are considerably more
expensive when compared to setting up a simple living trust. This is important for a number of reasons;
it avoids the headaches that are often associated with estate probate, saving your beneficiaries the
trouble. Also, for the sake of your beneficiaries, avoiding the costs of probate will leave them with more
of your estate, much like you intended. It is always recommended that you seek a qualified estate
planning attorney, well versed in estate probate and living trusts, if you have complications or
questions that may not be the norm.

Setting up a living trust,, is one of the
most critical estate planning steps to avoiding probate,, for your family. However, probate is just
one of the several benefits you can get from a living trust. Don't delay, set one up today.

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                     How to Avoid Probate: A Living Trust Is Needed in Addition to a Will
                                                             By Mitchell Miller

Ensuring that a client's estate does not go through probate is one of the main goals of estate planning.
Why? Because probate costs money, takes time, and can cause major aggravation.

First, here are some of the important terms in estate planning: Living Trust - a trust set up during a
person's lifetime (during which the trust may be changed or revoked) to avoid probate.

Probate - the legal process by which a will is proved to be valid and binding (can be a lengthy and
expensive process).

Will - a formal legal document directing the disposition of assets upon death.

Why it is important for an estate to avoid probate: In the May 2008 American Bar Association Journal
an attorney in Chicago says: "Probate in Illinois is relatively painless, so long as there is no litigation
associated with it. Probate requires only two court appearances, and the decision-making does not
require court approval, so long as there is no litigation or upset heirs interfering with the administration
of the estate." There can easily be totally unexpected upset heirs interfering with the administration of
the estate. And even just paying an attorney's hourly rate for two court appearances and various court
filings can cost heirs a great deal of money.

Probate fees can take a big bite out of a small estate: Some states, like California, have attorney's and
executor's probate fees set by law. In California, a small estate of $500,000 (and with California house
prices that is a small estate) will have to pay the estate's attorney $13,000. And if the executor doesn't
waive the fee, he or she will also receive a fee of $13,000.

That's right, $26,000 in fees for an estate that might consist of only a small residence! Plus court filing
fees, probate referee fees, certified copy fees and aggravation too much to mention.

Privacy issue - probate is a public process: Another problem with probate is that it is a public process.
A will becomes part of the records at the courthouse, and anybody who wants to can read it. If there's
a contentious relative being left out of a will, or if privacy is valued, probate should definitely be

A living trust solves these problems: What's the bottom line so that an estate doesn't have to go
through these legal obstacles? A will is not enough to avoid probate. A living trust is needed.

A living trust has the same instructions for the disposition of property that would be expected in a will.
But since the trust is a pre-existing legal entity, it continues after death. Therefore, the estate does not
have to go through probate since there are no assets that have to be "proved."

Pour-over will takes care of any assets not transferred to the trust: A will is still needed in case there
are any assets that have not been transferred to the trust. For example, the proceeds of a wrongful
death lawsuit would be picked up by the will because these proceeds didn't exist at the time the trust
was set up. The will "pours" everything it covers into the trust, which is why it is known as a
"pour-over" will.

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The above information is NOT legal advice, only considerations for you to discuss with your own estate
planning attorney. The providing of this material does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Watch the short free video on Mitchell R. Miller's information site at to learn why an estate plan needs to be reviewed every 4-5
years.  In addition, get a free copy of 4 Important Questions You Should Ask About a Living
Trust prepared by Mitchell R. Miller - a tax, trust and estate attorney for over 30 years. is a subsidiary of .

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Related eBooks:

How to Avoid Probate: A Living Trust Is Needed in Addition to a Will
How to Prevent Probate Estate From Happening
Probate Funding: An Heir’s Best Friend
Florida Probate:Does Probate Law Require You To Hire A Florida Probate Attorney?
Let’s Talk about Probate

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