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3 Things You Aren't Doing to Help Your Family Avoid Probate Court

by Jamie Nichols

If you have been doing some estate planning, you may think you're completing all the right documents. However, you may be omitting some important things that could help your family avoid probate court when you pass on. Here are some things you might not be doing.

Including All Assets in Planning

You may be including bank accounts and life insurance policies in your estate planning, but it is not uncommon to forget stocks you purchased years ago or assume that everyone knows you want your jewelry to go to your daughter. When you forget or leave out assets, that could lead to any number of disputes that result in a visit to probate court.

To avoid this, make a list of all your assets and check with family members and close friends to make sure you aren't leaving anything out. Be sure to make provisions for everything you own.

Planning for Taxes and Bills

You may have no problem creating a will and other estate-planning documents, but you might not be thinking at all about the taxes your beneficiaries will have to pay or the creditors that may make claims against your estate. Your beneficiaries may be ill-prepared to deal with these things and could end up in probate court.

To avoid this, talk to an accountant to determine the taxes your estate will be responsible for so that you and your beneficiaries can take steps to prepare for them. Help your beneficiaries by making attempts to settle as many of your debts as you can right now. At the very least, make a list of all your creditors so your beneficiaries know who they will be dealing with.

Updating Your Documents

After you've completed your will or set up your trust, you might never want to think about estate planning again. However, it is vital that you regularly take a look at your documents and ensure that all the information is as current as possible. Divorces, deaths, marriages, births, and arguments may have happened since you finished, and those life events might affect your decisions about how to distribute your assets. Not updating your estate planning documents can cause family strife that results in probate court after you pass away.

Now that you know some mistakes you may be making that could cause your family to end up in court, use the information in this article to make the right choices. Consult a probate attorney, like one from O'Connor, Mikita & Davidson, so you can be confident that you are doing everything necessary to help your family avoid probate after you pass away.