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Trust and Estates Attorneys

Avoiding the Probate Process in DC

After the death of a family member or loved one, it is usually prudent to hire an experienced probate attorney in DC as soon as possible after the death of a loved one, so that the attorney can assist the person with preserving the assets of the estate for post-mortem planning. They can also help with collecting required information so that the probate process can formally begin.

Probate Avoidance Planning

People often ask after the death of a loved one if there is a way to avoid the probate process. If the decedent died with an originally executed last will and testament then the original last will and testament must be filed with the court in the proper county. If the decedent died while owning assets in his or her own sole name without any beneficiary designations, the probate administration procedure is initiated to be able to transfer those assets to the heirs or beneficiaries.

If avoiding probate is a goal, estate planning usually must occur long before the death of the testator. The nature and type of probate proceeding initiated depends on a number of factors, but primarily on the amount of the probate estate. At death, it is often not possible to plan to avoid probate.

For some people, avoiding probate is a goal of estate planning. Avoiding probate may be a goal for clients for several reasons, but commonly it is to preserve privacy or avoid probate in multiple jurisdictions. There are a couple of common methods used to avoid probate. One familiar method to avoid probate is for someone to create and fund a trust during their lifetime.

Reasons to Consider Avoiding Probate

Clients who have concerns regarding privacy may consider avoiding probate. The decedent’s last will and testament and all the probate filings including documents such as the initial inventory of the assets, accounting for all the income, gains, losses and expenses paid, and the final report, become part of the public records. Often there is a notice published in a local newspaper that states that the decedent has passed away and an individual has been appointed to serve as a personal representative.

In addition to privacy, although probate in the District of Columbia can be a streamlined process, if a client owns real estate in multiple states or multiple jurisdictions then they may also consider avoiding probate in each jurisdiction to reduce fees and administrative costs.

Regardless of the reason for wishing to avoid probate, it is easier to avoid probate if a person has a plan put in place before they die, rather than trying to avoid the process after the testator is deceased.

The Role of a DC Lawyer

An attorney experienced with the probate process in DC will assist a client with planning to avoid probate if that is the client’s goal. A probate attorney may be able to assist someone after the death of a loved one with the administration of the estate, but often, estate planning to avoid probate must be in place prior to death.