There are a number of reasons that people in Wisconsin may want to create an estate plan that helps them avoid having their assets pass through probate before going to beneficiaries. If your estate is small enough, probate is generally not necessary. However, people often underestimate the value of their estate once a home and a vehicle are added to it.
Avoiding probate and alternatives
One reason people prefer to avoid probate is because assets can be passed more quickly using other methods, such as a trust, beneficiary designations or transfer-on-death accounts. Joint tenancy with right of survivorship is another way to ensure that another person will immediately be able to take possession of a piece of property.
Another reason to avoid probate is privacy. The probate process is public, so everyone will know what you did with your estate and what was in it. Trusts and other documents are private.
Probate can also be expensive. While the estate tax exemption is currently high enough that few people have to worry about that issue, this exemption could change. Using trusts, gifts and other estate planning vehicles are ways to avoid paying estate tax. Probate can be costly in other ways as well, and there may be less expensive ways to pass your assets to beneficiaries.
You may want to talk to an attorney about your estate and what the best way to pass assets to loved ones would be. There could be additional advantages to some strategies that do not involve probate. For example, a trust gives you the ability to specify when distributions are made.