There are, as you said, a lot of people who feel like, “Well, I don’t have sufficient assets to need a trust.” And there are some people who probably don’t have any significant use for a trust. Those are people who have assets, if they don’t have real estate total $50,000 or less or if they have real estate, the total assets ‑‑ they give you up to $75,000. Those assets can be handled by what’s called a small estate affidavit in lieu of doing a probate. You can transfer up to $50,000 ‑‑ again, if there’s no real estate. If there’s real estate, then you get up to $75,000. But the concept for most people is, “You know, I don’t have a lot of money.”
Sometimes we have somebody who’s only real asset is their home. If they have children or one child and they want to leave it to, they can avoid the probate process by preparing what’s known as a beneficiary deed. That type of a deed says, “When I die, my home is to go to this person.” Their son or daughter, whatever. Until that time, it’s mine alone. I can sell it. I can encumber it with a mortgage or a second mortgage or a homeowner’s equity line or things like that.
It’s still mine to do what I want with it, but when I die, it goes where I say on the deed. It goes to whatever person I name.
If that’s the only real asset somebody has, and they have somebody they want to name in a beneficiary deed, they can avoid the need to do a trust, and still not have to worry about a probate.
But for the average person, they’re going to have ‑‑ if you add bank accounts, equity in home, equity in vehicles, home furnishings, jewelry, artwork, various and sundry things like that along with any retirement benefits, bank accounts, 401(k)’s, IRAs, that kind of stuff, it’s real easy to go above the $50,000 mark and necessitate a probate.
A probate, even on a simple estate, is going to require at least four to six months, and sometimes an awful lot longer than that in this court system. It’s going to usually cost a minimum of $2,000 to $2,500 when you pay the filing fee, some attorney fees because most people don’t know enough about probate to be able to do it on their own. And then, notice to creditors. It has to be published in the newspaper, things like that.