Avoiding Probate

Columbia Estate Planning Attorneys Provide Effective Strategies for Avoiding Probate

Creating efficient estate plans for Maryland families since 1996

Probate courts serve an important purpose. They validate wills, ensure outstanding debts are paid and supervise the distribution of assets to intended beneficiaries. Unfortunately, the process can also be lengthy and costly for heirs. Unexpected issues can drag out the proceedings for months and even years. For many people, avoiding the probate process is the most attractive option. At Altman and Associates, our Columbia probate attorneys guide you through every option to identify a strategy to minimize time-consuming probate court proceedings. Using our detail-oriented, personalized approach we assist you in crafting an estate plan designed to be as expeditious as possible.

How can I avoid probate in Maryland?

While it’s difficult to avoid probate entirely in Maryland there are a number of legal instruments that can be used to streamline and simplify the process. The living trust is the most widely used of these tools. Through a living trust, you transfer ownership of your property to yourself as the trustee while you are living. You then name someone to replace you as trustee in the event of your death. This is important for a few reasons, including:

  • Avoiding Probate – Any assets governed by the trust will not have to go through the Probate Court upon your death.
  • Managing Affairs while Living – You can also specify that your trust go into effect while you are alive in the event you become incapacitated. This allows your chosen representative to assist in providing for your care and administering your affairs if you are unable to do so.
  • Tax Planning – A living trust can be essential in efficient tax planning. Trusts allow you to distribute assets over time and per a specified schedule, which can be advantageous for your beneficiaries.

Often, a will can complement your living trust. We may recommend an accompanying “pour-over will” which automatically transfers, or pours over, any leftover assets into your trust once you pass away. Helpfully, this avoids the problem of having to update your trust every time you obtain new property. After a thorough review of your individual situation and assets, our skilled attorneys can provide detailed advice on how a living trust might benefit you and your family. We are committed to seeing your needs and wishes properly executed through your comprehensive estate plan.

How can you streamline the distribution of my real estate assets?

How you title your real estate will also affect whether it needs to pass through probate court. For instance, you may consider owning your home as a joint tenant with right of survivorship with your spouse or other heir. In this case, the surviving joint tenant retains sole ownership of the property in the event of the other’s death. Since the decedent’s ownership in the property ended at their death, it is not considered to be part of their estate.

If probate is required, there are certain mechanisms in place to smooth the process. Maryland offers a simplified track for small estates, for example. An experienced, local estate planning attorney is your best resource in evaluating your estate. Our Columbia estate planning attorneys have the knowledge and experience to organize your estate for maximum efficiency, and can assist you in making appropriate adjustments among your assets.

Trust our Columbia estate planning lawyers to minimize probate

For more than 20 years, we have helped families structure their estates, avoiding the costs and headaches associated with unnecessary probate court proceedings. At Altman and Associates, our Columbia estate planning attorneys have a proven reputation for providing honest, professional legal advice for Maryland families. Our offices are conveniently located in the Rockville, Bethesda area and in Columbia, Maryland. Learn more about your options. Call us at 301-468-3220 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.