Conventional messaging around the probate process is that it is something to avoid like the plague. To that end, legal strategies and tools exist to facilitate the transfer of assets outside the scope of the court.

The main reason for the aversion to probate is that it can take a lot of time to resolve issues triggered by litigation. And, as we all know, time is money. There are also fees attached to various probate processes. That serves as another motive for taking evasive action.

The will as estate plan foundation

An enforceable will is the main ammunition in the legal arsenal for avoiding probate. Others include:

  • Establishing some form of joint property ownership of key assets.
  • Naming specific persons as beneficiaries of funds in accounts or from insurance policies upon your death where that is possible.
  • Gifting.
  • Creating one of the variety of trusts possible under New York law.

Despite the negatives associated with the probate process, some benefits do exist with probate. These usually depend on the size of the estate and the provisions of state-specific law and might include:

  • Confirming the validity of the will.
  • Providing the family of the deceased with greater certainty that the decedent’s plan is carried out in line with his or her intentions.
  • Ensuring that any assets whose value are in question are properly assessed.

Whether you have a simple portfolio of assets or one that is complicated, you want to be sure that its distribution is handled according to your personal wishes. And the best way to do that is to consult with an experienced attorney.