Probate for small estates

probate for small estates

Probate process for estates requires two important aspects. Foremost, you should submit the last will of the deceased in the court. If the court approves of the will, you get an order of the probate. The other aspect relates to the process of managing the probate process. Now, your estate can be divided into two, large and small estates. However, how do you classify? Well, this is where the probate attorney comes into the picture. The attorney can help you understand the kind of estate you have.

Planning for small estate is an imperative aspect.  Many people believe that estate planning is only for wealthy people. However, this is not the fact. Estate planning holds much importance for small estates as well. Also, there are some tips that can help in the effective planning for small estates. Here are some of the useful tips.

Assemble A Probate Team

Proper probate planning for a small estate requires you to formulate a team. The team should include a probate attorney, tax professional, and a financial advisor. These professionals would help you to prepare a map for your estate. You can customize this map as per your estate’s requirements. The main goal is to get help in ensuring effectual distribution of your assets to the right people.

Make Efforts to Set Up Guardianship For Your Dependants

If there are dependents who are still minors or with special needs, you need to appoint guardianship for them. If there are no guardians, the court will appoint. However, always talk to your guardians beforehand. Otherwise, there may be issues if the guardians are not ready. Also, it is not necessary that the guardians have to manage the money which you are leaving for the minors. Moreover, it is advisable not to name a couple as co-guardians. The reason is that if, unfortunately, the couple takes a divorce, it can create a hassle in the probate process.

Always Keep Your Beneficiaries Upto Date

The estate planning for small estates may have a loophole to watch for. As per the loophole, the money in your account having named beneficiaries will go to them. Even if the estate plan does not mention this aspect. Thus, ask your probate attorney for help when it comes to keeping your beneficiaries aligned with your estate plans. In fact, it is the main responsibility of the probate attorney to make this happen for you and your beneficiaries.

Keep Digital Assets In Mind

Nowadays, it is a common trend to keep one’s documents stored in social media accounts. The main reason is to make these documents inaccessible for others. Now, service providers do not disclose these passwords often, even after the person’s demise. However, this can pose a hassle for your loved ones afterwards. Thus, it is advisable to designate a ‘digital fiduciary’ in the small estate plan. This designated person would have all the access to your digital information. Also, you can work with your probate attorney to remove your online presence if you wish for. 

Teach Your Executor Well

Even if the small estate qualifies for a simple probate process, infor your executor well. A confused executor does no good for estate planning. Thus, sit with your executor and talk to him or her about all the important procedures. You can also include your probate attorney in the meeting. Explain all the pros and cons of the process and how they should handle the entire procedure effectively.

Make Efforts To Document Your Wishes Properly

The estate plan for small estate needs to clearly state what you want for your probate assets following your demise. However, if this is not the case, the state will make decisions on your behalf. Your estate plan should include the following aspects:

  • Healthcare power of attorney: This document designates the person who will make health decisions for you when you are unable.
  • The living will: This document offers coherent instructions about what kind of treatments you want if you are unable to speak for yourself.
  • Financial power of attorney: This document assigns the person who can make financial decisions on your behalf.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Release form: This particular form gives access to the designated person to your healthcare information.

Final Word

Whatever the size of the estate, whether large or small, requires proper planning. Thus, it is always better to consult your probate attorney to make things easier for you. Remember, effective planning for small estate make things easier for your family and executor after you. 

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