What is Estate Planning?

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of your estate being settled after you pass away. Regardless of whether or not you’ve written a will, your assets could still be subject to probate. Read on to see how this process may affect you and your loved ones.

The Probate Process

You determine who has authority to settle your estate after death. This person or corporate entity is designated in your will and appointed by the courts as the personal representative. This person is responsible for ensuring your assets are distributed according to your will. If you pass away without an estate plan, the court will choose someone to act as the personal representative of your estate and determine your heirs per state intestacy laws.

There are pros and cons to the probate process. Pros include the time limits placed on creditors looking to collect any outstanding debts, and it allows the court to supervise and approve the actions of the executor.

The cons of probate include possible delays in transferring any titles, and it could be a costly process - especially if you own property in multiple states. Typically, the longer it takes to finalize, the higher the cost. Also, probate records are public documents – something to keep in mind.

You can avoid probate in a few ways, including:

  • The use of a revocable trust
  • Making lifetime gifts to reduce the size of your estate
  • Certain forms of account ownership
  • Designating beneficiaries on all of your assets

Probate laws vary from state to state. If you have questions about the process, our trust services team can help you get started. Contact BECU Trust Services at 206-812-5176, or becutrust@becu.org.

Helpful Resources

BECU Trust Services is a trade name used by Members® Trust Company under license from BECU. Trust services are provided by Members® Trust Company, a federal thrift regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or tax advice regarding your situation. For legal or tax advice, please consult your attorney and/or accountant. Trust products not federally insured, not subject to credit union or affiliate guarantee, and may lose value.