Planning for your death or incapacity might be uncomfortable, but it is the best way to make things easier for your surviving loved ones. By failing to take adequate precautions now, you leave your estate open to additional costs during the probate process. The following reviews some of the most common mistakes people make that leave their estates vulnerable to additional probate costs.

Mistaking Estate Taxes for Probate

Federal estate taxes apply to estates that are $11.58 million or greater in value. This threshold, however, is different from the probate process. A person whose estate might be still enough to avoid federal estate taxes will still be subject to probate. Not only is probate costly, but it is also a time-consuming process. 

It is a good idea to utilize the appropriate estate planning strategies to avoid probate or at least decrease the amount of assets that must go through this process.

Not Having an Appropriate Will

Approximately 60% of adults in this country do not have any type of estate plan. If you die without an estate plan, your estate will proceed through probate court, which will be a costly and lengthy process. Another large group of people has estate plans that are now out of date.

Various life changes, however, can leave the terms of an estate plan no longer ideal. Other people have estate planning documents that were written in another state. The probate process will likely take much longer and result in additional costs if your assets must be probated in another state. You must have a current estate plan that will control how your assets are divided following your death or incapacity.

Overlooking Common Methods to Avoid Probate

Oklahoma permits the distribution of small estates without probate provided the estate is worth $50,000 or less. For qualifying estates, utilizing this method is the best way to avoid probate. First, 6 OS § 906 created a “Small Estate Affidavit,” which allows banks and financial entities to pay out bank accounts under $50,000. The account must be in the name of a sole person and not have any designated beneficiaries. 

Oklahoma also lets affidavits take the place of probate for the distribution of tangible personal property. The limit for this property is also $50,000 and any assets over this value must pass through probate. Any person who is indebted to the deceased individual is allowed to accept the affidavit and make the distribution. Because there are strict requirements for both of these methods, it is a good idea to retain the assistance of an experienced probate attorney to navigate this process.

Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

No matter the type of estate planning document with which you need help, an experienced estate planning attorney can make sure that you take all critical issues into consideration. Contact attorney Jim A Lyon today to schedule a free case evaluation.