Due to the time and expenses associated with the traditional probate process, estate planners frequently counsel clients to enact probate avoidance strategies. Some prevalent probate-avoidance plans include Revocable Living Trusts, Joint Ownership of Assets, and making lifetime gifts.
If a Revocable Living Trust is used as a part of an estate plan, the key to probate avoidance is ensuring that the Revocable Living Trust is funded during the lifetime of the person establishing the trust. After executing a trust agreement, the Testator (the settlor) should ensure that all assets are correctly re-titled in the name of the Revocable Living Trust. If higher value assets such as real estate remain outside of the Revocable Living Trust, then a probate proceeding may be necessary to transfer the assets to the Revocable Living Trust upon the death of the Testator.
Mediation serves as a cost-effective alternative to a full-scale litigation to settle contested family disputes. At a mediation, disgruntled family members and beneficiaries discuss the transfer of assets. There are many potential conflicts associated with blended families, step-siblings, and multiple marriages after a death. If the Will is not very clear on the deceased wishes providing a clause that an estate distribution through mediation and not litigation was the request and is required by the deceased helps all involved. This allows people to confront the issues head-on and will minimize the chance of future family conflicts and disputes and meet their financial goals without high legal and court fees.