Why Would I Want to Avoid Probate in Utah? (part 3) (estate planning basics)
May 29, 2015 - Posted by: admin - In category:
When it comes to our loved ones and our property, most of us would greatly prefer to be in charge and to make our own decisions, rather than leaving control to another person or a court.
This is a continuation of the discussion of why you might want to avoid probate. As noted in earlier posts, there are many people who either intentionally or by default elect to have their final affairs settled through the probate process. There is nothing inherently wrong with this approach and it often works out just fine, all things considered. At the same time, there are occasions when the probate process becomes less than ideal, including the ever-present possibility of a long and slow process that can become expensive. Let us also add to the reasons to avoid probate that you want to be in total control of what happens with regard to your assets and how your various family members and other loved ones are treated and involved (or not) throughout this process. This is no small point. In other words, you want to be able to choose for yourself and direct a program that will be followed, rather than leave many important decisions to others.
You may be thinking that a Will, which is then submitted to probate as required, is a good plan of action and one that can get to the same place. It is possible that events could transpire in this manner. At the same time, consider again that in many respects a Will is simply a “letter of requests” that you leave behind for the judge, to the effect of:
“Dear Judge, if you’re reading this, I’m dead…I would therefore request that you do the following with regard to my property and with regard to my minor children who need a guardian…”
Even in the best case scenario, this may entail the involvement of several individuals, each of whom has some discretion in making decisions and each of whom therefore has an effect on the ultimate outcome. In short, this approach has the potential of leaving the decision-making to various other people, some or many of whom you do not know.
Contrast that with the course of action where you choose to avoid probate altogether through proper planning, including the use of one or more of living trusts, beneficiary designations and related planning tools. Through this latter approach, you can be in control to a much larger degree, give a much more detailed plan of action and specify exactly who is involved later in carrying out that plan of action. At the same time, through this method of probate avoidance, you can bypass the court system entirely and thereby avoid a situation where decisions related to your property and loved ones can be made a judge, a court clerk and/or others who do not know or care about you or your objectives. Again, you can choose to keep things private, without your circle of trust (pun intended) and consistent with the choices you have made in all respects.
So again, the choices are yours to make. Good luck!