Pittsburgh How to Avoid Probate Attorney

Many people want to avoid the probate process because it can be time-consuming and expensive. The probate process is the process through which the probate court executes a deceased individual’s last will and testament. The probate process can take months or even years to finalize, leaving beneficiaries without the assets they need to pay for funeral expenses. Probate comes with additional expenses like legal and executor fees that reduce the value of the estate. 

Whether you have a small or large estate, the attorneys at Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace LLP can help you avoid the probate process. We have an in-depth understanding of Pennsylvania estate planning laws and use all the tools available to help our clients avoid probate. We can help you establish joint property ownership, create a living trust, or designate beneficiaries on financial accounts. Consulting with a local Pittsburgh attorney is important since probate laws vary by state. 

The Benefits of Avoiding the Probate Process

The probate process generally ranges from nine months to two years, depending on the complexity of the estate and any disputes over the will or other probate matters that arise. While the assets in your estate are tied up in the probate process, your beneficiaries may struggle to pay for expenses related to your death, such as end-of-life medical expenses, funeral expenses, and expenses related to managing the property. 

When you create an estate plan with the goal of avoiding probate, your assets will be distributed more quickly to your loved ones. If your assets are in a trust, your loved ones can have access to the assets in the trust immediately after you pass away. You can set up the trust to allow them to have limited access to assets before you die. 

Reducing Stress for Your Loved Ones

The probate process can be lengthy and emotionally challenging for your beneficiaries. Your loved ones will have to face their grief over your death continually while navigating the probate process. The probate process can also delay access to the assets. Suppose you have beneficiaries counting on receiving the assets to cover the cost of going to college. In that case, they may have to re-think their educational plans if the assets remain tied up in the probate process. Avoiding probate can also reduce the administration duties for the person you would have named. Acting as an administrator can be burdensome. 

Will My Estate Be Subject to Probate?

Under Pennsylvania estate planning laws, estates must go through the probate process if they’re worth more than $50,000. A person’s estate includes real property, assets in bank accounts, financial investments, and personal property. However, there are certain exceptions. For example, if you own real estate jointly with rights of survivorship, that property will be exempt from the probate process. Assets with designated beneficiaries, such as retirement accounts or life insurance policies, can also avoid the probate process. 

The probate process can also be required when minor beneficiaries are involved. If you’d like to determine whether your estate will be required to go through the probate process, Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace LLP is here to help. We will explain what will happen with your estate and will help you create a comprehensive estate plan that reduces the burden of the probate process, while giving your loved ones peace of mind. 

Creating a Living Trust to Avoid Estate Planning

With careful planning, you can avoid the probate process and make the process of transferring your assets to your beneficiaries smoother. Many estate planners create living trusts and transfer their assets into the trust while alive. Assets owned by the trust will not need to go through the probate process. Instead, they will automatically transfer to your beneficiaries. You can appoint trustees to manage the assets in the trust until your death. You can appoint yourself and your spouse as trustees and designate a successor trustee who can take over after you pass away. 

When you create a living trust, you will save your loved ones time and money. When you create your trust agreement, you’re in control of how property passes to your beneficiaries. Suppose your beneficiaries are younger or you are concerned about creditors. In that case, you can place stipulations on how much money beneficiaries receive every year or require them to reach a certain age before they receive the assets. Creating a living trust also gives you more privacy because your estate won’t be publicly exposed through the probate court. 

Avoiding Probate Through Joint Property Ownership and Beneficiary Designations

Another way to avoid the probate process in Pittsburgh is through joint ownership of real property. If you own a residential or commercial property, you can change the ownership of the property to joint ownership with rights of survivorship. 

When one property owner passes away, the other automatically becomes the sole owner of the property without the need to go through the probate process. There are drawbacks to joint ownership of property. It’s important that you trust the co-owner or owners of the property. Speaking to an attorney can help you understand the legal and tax implications of joint property ownership.

Designating beneficiaries on your financial accounts can also help your beneficiaries avoid the probate process. When a person has been designated as the owner of your bank account, savings account, or retirement plan, and you pass away, the assets in these accounts will transfer directly to them, bypassing the probate process. 

The Benefits of Working with a Skilled Attorney

 Working with an experienced attorney to avoid probate can help you understand all of your legal options. It may be tempting to purchase a last will and testament or trust through an online estate planning company, but doing so could cost your beneficiaries money, stress, and time in the future. You may miss opportunities to protect your assets and your loved ones. 

Schedule a Complimentary Case Evaluation with a Skilled Attorney

If you have questions about how to avoid the probate process, the attorneys at Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace LLP are prepared to help you. Don’t hesitate to contact our knowledgeable Pittsburgh estate planning attorneys to learn more about how we can help you meet your estate planning goals.