Estate planning allows you to determine what happens to your assets when you pass on, giving your family security—and you some peace of mind. Creating a will is one way to delegate how your belongings are distributed among beneficiaries. If you draft a will, it's important to know about the probate process. Find out how it works below so that you can know when to consult an attorney.

What Is Probate?

When a person passes on, the executor of their will notifies the probate courts. The courts authenticate the document to ensure it is valid. The next step is to review an itemized list of the deceased's assets and debts and ascertain the estate’s overall value. The courts then ensure any debts and taxes due on the estate are paid.

How Will Probate Impact Your Estate Planning?

probate lawProbate presents a few challenges. First, beneficiaries must wait until after probate is done to receive their assets. Second, the will is a public document, and if there are disputes about “who gets what,” these can extend the process. Finally, related administrative fees associated will decrease the estate’s value.

For these reasons, many people opt to find ways to avoid probate. You can place all of your assets in a trust, for example. Technically these belongings are the property of the trust. When you pass on, they go directly to the intended trust recipient without probate.

If you own property, you can avoid probate by declaring joint ownership with “rights of survivorship.” You and another person, like your spouse, are both legal owners, according to the title deed. A clause in the paperwork stipulates that if one person dies, the property automatically belongs fully to the other owner, so no probate is needed.

You can also find ways around probate for assets like bank accounts and retirement funds. Simply make them “payable on death” or POD. You choose a person who these funds should be transferred to when you pass on. An estate planning attorney can help you find ways to minimize the burden of probate.


For help with estate planning in Kingman, AZ, trust Sippel Law Firm PLLC. This law firm has been serving the community for over 35 years. Their attorneys are educated, knowledgeable, and licensed. To meet with a lawyer, complete the online contact form or call (928) 753-2889.