Planning for Seniors: Want to avoid Probate?

The number one question I am asked by seniors and their families is, “How do we avoid probate?” 

Often, the reason this question is asked is because people want to avoid dealing with the courts. Understandably, they don’t want their personal information to become a matter of public record. With the guidance of an attorney, you can successfully keep the court out of your personal affairs. It is important to have a Will, but a Will doesn't keep you out of probate. Probate is the court process we go through in order to verify that your Will was valid and to give your Executor the authority to carry out the wishes of your Will and eventually transfer the assets of the deceased person to their heir/beneficiaries.

The documents that can help keep you out of the courts are the Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Living Revocable Trust, Community Property Survivorship Agreement, and Transfer on Death Deeds. The durable and medical powers of attorney can help keep your affairs out of the courts and avoid guardianship while you are living. If for some reason you lose capacity, through illness, an accident, or something else, you want to have a durable power of attorney our medical power of attorney to allow your loved ones make decisions on your behalf. If you don't have these documents, your loved once could be forced to apply for guardianship over you and you become a ward of the county. The documents that can help you avoid probate are the Living Revocable Trust, Community Property Survivorship Agreement and Transfer on Death Deeds. It is important to talk to a trusted attorney to advise which documents will best accomplish your goals.