In a sense, an inheritance can be viewed as a gift that is given posthumously.
When you give a gift of any kind that is not postdated, you give the gift in real-time. However, if you do not plan your estate optimally, your loved ones could wind up waiting quite a while to receive their inheritances. And, there can be considerable expenses involved that reduce the amount that they actually do inherit.
If you use a last will to direct the transfer of your assets, your estate is going to fall into the hands of the probate court. The court will supervise the administration of the estate after determining the validity of the will. While this process is dragging along, your family members will receive nothing.
How long it will take for the process of probate to run its course will vary depending on the jurisdiction, whether or not the estate is being challenged in any way, and the relative size and scope of the assets. It can take anywhere from several months to multiple years.
Probate can also be costly, consuming perhaps as much as 1/10 of the value of your legacy in some cases.
So, you don’t just want to arrange for asset transfers without regard to the details. The wise course of action is to prevent asset erosion while making sure that your heirs receive their inheritances in a time efficient manner. This is something that is best accomplished with the assistance of a licensed, experienced, and savvy San Jose estate planning lawyer.