Many people are not aware of the existence of probate. When you draw up a last will to state your final wishes, the document is not confined to your family members. Instead, the will must be admitted to probate, and the probate court must supervise the administration of the estate.
Let’s look at some of the drawbacks of probate.
The Time Factor
It is likely that you want your loved ones to receive their inheritances as quickly as possible after you pass away. This could actually be a necessity for some families depending on the financial circumstances of everyone involved.
Probate is time-consuming. Even very simple and straightforward cases will take months. More complicated probate cases can take years.
Why would probate be time-consuming? There are a number of factors to consider. The probate court would hear any disputes that may be presented, and a contested estate case can get quite lengthy.
Final debts must be paid during probate. Creditors must be notified, and they are allowed a certain amount of time to come forward.
There is also the matter of the liquidation of property. It can take time for the executor to liquidate property of various kinds to prepare this property for distribution to the heirs.
Probate records can be accessed by the general public. For a variety of reasons, you may not want anyone and everyone to know exactly what went on during probate.
In addition to the time factor and the loss of privacy, there are considerable expenses that can accumulate during the probate process. The court is going to impose a filing fee, and the executor must be paid. The executor will often engage the services of an accountant and an attorney. Liquidation and appraisal expenses can also be a factor.
When you hear about these drawbacks you may wonder if it is possible to arrange for future asset transfers outside of the process of probate. The answer is yes, probate avoidance strategies do exist.
The best way to avoid probate will vary on a case-by-case basis. Some people simply want to facilitate direct asset transfers outside of probate. Others have additional concerns.
If you would like to discuss probate avoidance strategies with a licensed attorney, we invite you to contact our firm to set up a free consultation. We will listen as you explain your objectives, answer any questions that you may have, and make the appropriate recommendations.
It is important to understand the fact that you have options when you are planning your estate. There is no reason to limit yourself. If you want to avoid probate and the drawbacks that go along with it, you have every right to do so.
Parman & Easterday