It isn’t unusual for it to take six to eighteen months at a cost of $350 - $700 an hour to transfer estate assets... but it doesn't have to be this way. This is one of those things that you can control. Avoiding probate, eliminating or minimize federal estate taxes, and minimizing the effect of income taxes on tax-deferred assets can make tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of difference to your heirs. We are careful about using the word "can", but, in this case, it is appropriate.
With the proper planning, you can avoid probate, eliminate or minimize federal estate taxes, and minimize the effect of income taxes on IRA, 401(k), 403(b) and other tax-deferred asset transfers. It will be helpful to have the assistance of an advisor with an understanding of the estate transfer arena and through application of certain provisions of the Tax Code.
The most effective cost saving, and asset protection strategies must be implemented prior to death. There are strategies that can still be applied following death, but they aren’t as helpful. Bottom line, there isn’t a bad time to get competent professional input, but the sooner you do so the better. This means that the best time to address these strategies is now. The right financial advisor will help you with a wealth transfer plan designed such that your assets could transfer quickly, efficiently, and cost free.
Much costlier than probate, however, is “Unintended Heirs.” To learn how intended heirs are frequently not actual heirs see Avoiding Unintended Heirs.
Please note: This content intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. Please consult your legal professional for specific details about the probate process in your state.