What Happens After an Estate Is Opened and How a Lawyer can Help you Avoid Opening a Probate Estate

August 12, 2013

People often wonder what exactly happens after an executor (called a personal representative in Minnesota) opens an estate with the probate court. This article from WealthCounsel provides a short summary of the whole process that the executor goes through.  You might already have a sense of the basic steps.  After all, this is why you write a will, isn’t it?  So the probate court knows what to do with your assets after you’re gone?

What you might not know, though, is that any good attorney who drafts a will for you will then spend a related amount of time figuring out how to help you avoid probate.  Hopefully that will you’ve worked on will never need to be used, because you’ve done such a great job of getting your affairs in order.

There are many legal and valid ways for families to avoid the probate process altogether.  Pay-on-death beneficiaries, Transfer on Death Deeds, quitclaim deeds, trusts, other entities, and gifting are all useful tools in the lawyer’s bag of tricks to help your family proceed easily through the asset transfer process.  And when the planning is done upfront, the lawyer’s fees are generally MUCH lower than they would be in a probate process after a death.  In my opinion, that’s why you hire a lawyer in the first place – to help you make transfers to your heirs as smoothly and inexpensively as possible.  What a gift to give to your family!

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