Probate is the legal process used by courts to administer the estate of a deceased individual. During the probate process, all claims made against the estate are resolved and the deceased’s assets are distributed according to the terms of the deceased’s Will. So, what is the big deal? Why does everyone say you should avoid probate? Below are two of the most important reasons it is important to create an estate plan that allows your loved ones to avoid probate:
- Probate is time-consuming. There is a significant amount of paperwork required to complete a probate action. Even if there are no contested issues involved in the case, you are still required to attend hearings and submit a variety of forms as well as meet strict deadlines. During this time, the money and assets of the deceased is held in the probate case. This can take months, even years, depending upon how complex the case is, which means your loved ones do not have access to their inheritance during this time.
- Probate is expensive. There are many fees associated with filing a probate action. Consider the following:
- Legal fees. The attorney fees paid in a probate case are typically what the court deems as “reasonable.” There are some states that pay the lawyers a fee based upon a set percentage of the value of the estate. If there are numerous contested matters involved in the probate case, the amount of legal fees can accumulate quickly, which lowers the amount of the estate that is available for distribution to your loved ones.
- Executor fees. Executor fees can vary from nothing to thousands of dollars, depending upon who is serving as the executor. If the executor is a named beneficiary under the Will, it is common for him or her to waive their fee.
- Other fees and costs. A probate proceeding includes other expenses such as court costs, appraiser’s fees, and a variety of other expenses.
The time and expense involved in probate aren’t the only reasons you should avoid it, but they are definitely significant considerations. You can save money by handling your financial affairs while you are living rather than leaving the mess for your loved ones to deal with after you are gone. Additionally, creating an estate plan is one of the best ways you can make sure your loved ones are protected.
Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation. The attorneys at The Swenson Law Firm provide estate planning services for individuals with estates of all sizes. Have a great holiday!