Elderly couple looking at the computer

Can You Avoid Probate Court?

Probate is the process by which a person’s last will and testament is determined as valid and that their intentions are carried out.

With careful estate planning, the probate process becomes much easier for surviving family members. With a poorly executed estate plan (or the absence of one entirely), probate can become a long, exhausting process for loved ones.

Below, we discuss the measures that you can take to draft a well-executed estate plan and help your family members avoid contentious and unnecessary probate.

How to Avoid Probate

Certain assets will not go through probate. These assets include the following:

  • Bank accounts with payable on death designations
  • Retirement funds with proper beneficiary designations
  • Life insurance policies with a payable-on-death beneficiary

Additionally, in Utah, small estates can usually avoid probate when the deceased has no real estate solely in his or her name at time of death and less than $100,000 in aggregate of probate assets (those asset or accounts that do not have designated beneficiaries or assets that the ownership upon death is not otherwise governed by contract).

If the value of an estate owns real estate or has greater than $100,000 in probate assets, a personal representative (often referred to as an executor) will need to be appointed by the probate court in order to have authority to administer the estate. 

As part of creating a clear, well-executed estate plan, make sure to take the following measures:

  • Contact an experienced estate planning attorney.
  • Calculate your net worth and figure out if your estate is liable for federal or state estate taxes.
  • Assess your family’s financial situation and decide upon beneficiaries.
  • Determine whether a will or a trust is better for your unique situation.
  • Create a plan for what happens if you become incapacitated.
  • Create a plan for your end-of-life care.

A qualified attorney will ensure that everything in your estate plan is designed and drafted correctly and that there are no lingering questions as to your wishes upon your death.

At Pearson Butler, we can help you draft a comprehensive estate plan that gives you control over your own legacy. Contact us today at (800) 265-2314 to schedule a consultation.