Most people have been told that it is important to create an estate plan and to avoid the probate process. Unfortunately, they don’t truly understand why it is important. As a result, it is common for individuals to postpone estate planning because they think “I’ll get to it,” or they incorrectly believe that the estate plan they have will circumvent the probate procedures.
Probate is the process used by the courts of law to administer the estate of a deceased person. The probate court provides the means for all claims against the estate to be administered and the assets of the deceased person to be distributed according to the terms of the Will or as provided by law if no Will was left by the deceased individual.
Below are the two primary reasons you should ensure that your estate plan will allow your estate to be administered outside of probate:
- Probate is time-consuming: As with most things that must go through the court process, a significant amount of paperwork is required during probate. Even if there are only a few parties involved and there are no contested issues, there are still required court appearances, deadlines that must be met and procedural matters that must be handled. In fact, your property and money can be tied-up in the probate process for months or years, depending on how complex your case is.
- Probate is expensive: There are a variety of different fees that are associated with filing a probate case. Below are a few examples:
- Legal fees are based usually based upon what the probate judge considers as “reasonable” in your case. However, in some jurisdictions the lawyer’s fees are calculated as a percentage of the value of the estate. Either way, the more complex your case the faster the legal fees will increase.
- Executor fees are what the person who is appointed to handle the probate of your case is paid for his or her services. Depending upon who you appoint as the executor, the fee may be very minimal or it could be fairly significant. For instances, if the individual you appoint to serve as the executor of your estate is also a named beneficiary, he or she may waive the executor fee.
- Miscellaneous fees often arise during a probate case such as court filing fees, appraiser’s costs, and other such expenses.
Each probate case is unique and there are a variety of other reasons you may want to avoid the probate process. However, by creating a comprehensive estate plan now, you can save time and money, as well as ensure that the people you love the most are protected.
Whether you have a will or a trust or nothing at all, we, at The Law Office of Diane Anderson, can help you navigate probate and trust termination. This may include assets, debt, tax debt, guardianships and more. Contact us today to schedule a comprehensive consultation.