Making plans for one’s death is not always high on the list for a St. Louis resident to do. In fact, it can be downright depressing to think about how one’s assets and possessions should be divided up when the owner is no longer alive and using them. When a person dies their estate will be distributed and managed according to the plan they put in place and in some cases that process can involve the use of the probate system.

As previously discussed on this real estate and estate planning blog, probate is the method pulling together a decedent’s assets and liabilities, paying off their debts, and using their testamentary tools like their will to pass out the bequests the decedent planned for their beneficiaries. However, probate is not always an efficient system. If a decedent does not make a solid estate plan, probate can take a long time to accomplish and cost a lot of money.

The administration of a probated estate is paid for with assets from the estate. If an estate spends a long time in the process it will cost more and more money. When an estate drags through probate not only do beneficiaries have to wait to get their inheritances but they may also receive less than they would have if the decedent had made a different plan that reduced or avoided the time their estate would spend in probate all together.

Individual estate plans should meet the needs of the individuals who create them. However, it is a common goal of estate planners to preserve their wealth so that their loved ones may benefit from their assets and property without seeing them reduced through probate. Attorneys who work in this important field can counsel their clients on how best to work around the probate process.