Many people understand the legal system as a method to protect their rights and punish wrongdoers. However, the legal system has many other functions to help individuals accomplish everyday tasks and to serve their everyday needs. For example, not all New Jersey residents choose to create estate plans for the distribution of their assets upon their deaths. When individuals do not have an estate plan or have assets that require administration, probate may be necessary.
Probate is a legal process that involves identifying assets, collecting them, distributing the assets to beneficiaries, paying the decedent’s bills, and closing out their estate. Probate is important because it ensures that property is dispensed properly when a person dies, but it can suffer from some serious deficiencies. For example, the probate process can take a long time to complete. When individuals make their own estate plans, distribution can be more direct and can take less time.
When probate lingers, costs can accumulate. Administering a person’s end of life estate can require a representative to spend time valuing property, contacting and working with beneficiaries, and undertaking other potentially expensive endeavors just to make sure that everything is done right. Probate serves an important purpose but is not always time or cost effective.
Estate planning is an important undertaking for all individuals, regardless of the size of their estates or the status of their families. Estate planning provides clear instructions for how estate assets should be handled when a person dies. To learn more about estate planning and avoiding probate, readers can reach out to their trusted attorneys for personalized legal advice.