May 4, 2020 — You might know that probate is the court process by which a deceased person’s estate is settled. What you may not know is how time-consuming and expensive this process can be. There are ways to avoid putting your loved ones through the hassle of probate and reduce the time and costs involved.

Trusts are one of the components of estate planning that we help our Clients focus on here at Leighton Legal Group. A trust is a great way to protect your assets from probate. By putting your assets into your trust, your designated trustee will have prompt access to your financial accounts and other property upon your death, rather than having to open an estate and wait to be appointed as executor by a judge through probate. Trusts can lighten the financial burden and they are often faster to administer than a probate estate. Probate typically costs three to ten percent of the total value of the estate and can take anywhere from six months to two years before the estate is closed.

A trust is a private instrument that usually remains private and is not required to be filed with the court. Pursuant to Illinois law, a will must be filed with the court shortly after death. When you put your entire distribution plan in a will without a trust, this choice can make the details of what you own and owe available to the public through court records. With a trust, the trustee can pay expenses and make distributions to beneficiaries privately instead of having to account to the court which then becomes a part of public record. You usually reduce the burdens on those who implement your last wishes through use of a trust and other important planning techniques.

Trusts are not exclusive to the wealthy. Even with modest net worth, your assets could still be subject to probate and your estate would likely need to go through the same process as any person who did not plan thoughtfully through probate alternatives such as trusts.

There are times and circumstances when alternatives to trusts are important to consider. Consult with an attorney experienced with estate planning to determine how to proceed in your specific situation.

We would be happy to provide you with more details about trusts, probate avoidance and more. Call us today at 309/828-7600 or send us an email to [email protected] to set up your 30-minute initial courtesy consultation with Attorney Tim Leighton.