Experienced Probate Lawyers in Scottsdale, Arizona
Probate happens more often than it should. Probate is opened when a deceased person does not have a Will or Trust and someone has come forward to ask for material things from the estate. It is usually very expensive and takes a lot of time. During probate, the judge will determine who is entitled to each portion of the estate, including but not limited to, bank accounts, stocks, property and personal processions. Years ago, trusts were not as common as today and were thought to be only for the wealthy families, but since the 1980s, Trusts have become more common, especially in “retirement magnet” states like Arizona. Unfortunately, many Trusts over the years have been prepared by inexperienced attorneys or document preparers who spit out shoddy, boilerplate forms that can create more problems than they solve. Many people, probably your parents, still don’t have a Trust. Additionally, if you or your parents do have a trust, an experienced attorney that you hire should review it. And if you or your parents don’t have a trust, you should talk to an experienced attorney about whether you, or they, should get one in place.
Trusts are for anyone who has any type of assets that they would like to ensure get distributed to the proper party at the proper time. Without a trust, there could be no one available to manage your legal affairs if you become incapacitated, such as getting dementia or Alzheimer’s in later years. And without a Trust, your assets get distributed outright to your designated beneficiaries when you die. This can lead to a problem if one of your beneficiaries is not an adult yet, because then a conservatorship is needed. Also, a lot of known beneficiaries that are not good with managing money, it may work better to give them their inheritance in smaller increments. You can’t do that without a Trust in place.
Trusts are especially important if there are unusual circumstances; if you are not treating your children equally, or if you are giving money to someone who the rest of your family doesn’t think should get anything. These personal choices can lead to probate litigation and probate conflicts can cause a lot of pain and resentments towards the deceased, and those left living, simply because of the stress and costs associated with it.
It is selfish NOT to take the time to set up your estate properly. Probate should NOT be considered a good option. You should have a discussion with your heirs to let them know your intentions, your wishes and discuss different options to avoid probate. Your family will be thankful for your proactive decisions to avoid probate later.