The death of a loved one is almost always a difficult time for a family. Oftentimes, family members would rather dedicate their time and energy toward grieving and supporting each other through a trying time than dedicating that same time and energy toward legal matters.
Because of this, many people will set up their affairs in such a way that the loved ones they leave behind will be able to avoid the legal issues altogether. This process is known as avoiding probate.
What is probate?
After a person dies, their property and assets are generally distributed to their surviving heirs. The legal process of managing the deceased’s property and assets is generally overseen by a court. This process can be complicated and can address many different issues, including,
· Authenticating last wills and testaments
· Identifying of the deceased’s property and assets and the beneficiaries
· Fulfilling surviving financial obligations (payment of debts)
· Distributing property to beneficiaries and heirs
All of these things are addressed under a legal process known as probate.
Why would a person want to avoid probate?
The most common reasons for wanting to avoid probate are because of time and money.
Probate is a legal process that usually includes courts, attorneys, etc. All of these things tend to cost significant amounts of money, which can put a financial strain on the loved ones of the deceased who have to go through the process.
In addition to the legal costs, the probate process can often take up to a year to completely resolve. For those who are still processing the loss of a loved one, an involved legal situation may not be the way they want to spend that time.
How can I avoid probate in Delaware?
There are a few different methods people in Delaware can use to avoid most, if not all, probate. Some of the most common methods include,
· Transfer-on-death registrations
These types of registrations generally deal with vehicles and securities. Once a beneficiary is named in the registration, the property in question will be immediately transferred to them upon the death of the owner.
· Payable-on-death accounts
Similar to the transfer-on-death registrations, payable-on-death designations can be established on bank accounts. Prior to the account-holder’s death, the beneficiary will have no legal claim to the funds in the account and no legal say in how they are used. After the account-holder’s death, all funds will be immediately transferred to the beneficiary.
· Living trusts
Citizens of Delaware can set up a living trust to avoid probate. They must create the trust, name themselves as the trustee and name a successor trustee. This will allow them to manage their property freely while they are alive and it will allow their successor to avoid probate upon their death.
These types of legal issues can be subject to special laws and can become complicated very quickly. If you find that you have any questions regarding probate or ways to avoid it, it is recommended that you obtain the services of an experienced and knowledgeable legal professional.