If you are just starting to look into the subject of estate planning because you feel as though it is time to take action, probate is the first place you should start. In this post, we will look at six things that you should know about probate. When you digest this information, you will probably see the entire process of estate planning in a somewhat different light.
Last Wills and Estate Administration
A will must be admitted to probate, and this is a legal process that takes place under the supervision of a court. As a result, the executor that is named in the document would not be able to conduct business on behalf of the state independently.
Probate Is Time Consuming
You probably would like your loved ones to receive their inheritances shortly after you are gone. After all, these are your assets, and you want them to be passed along to your family members in a timely manner. It shouldn’t be that complicated, right?
Unfortunately, the heirs must play a waiting game when a will is admitted to probate. The exact duration will vary depending on the circumstances, but the typical time frame will be eight months to a year if things go smoothly. Complex situations can take considerably longer.
The heirs to the estate cannot receive their inheritances until the estate has been probated and closed by the court, so this time lag can be problematic. At the very minimum, it is quite inconvenient.
Costs Can Be Considerable
Probate is not a free process by any means. There is a filing fee that is charged by the court, and the executor is entitled to payment for his or her time and effort. A probate attorney will often be called in by the executor, so there can be legal fees, and an accountant may be engaged as well.
When you mix in the appraisal and liquidation costs and various miscellaneous expenses, a noticeable portion of the estate can be consumed during probate before the heirs receive their inheritances.
Open Window for Disgruntled Parties
One of the responsibilities of the probate court is to determine the validity of the last will. Because of this, if anyone wants to contest the document, an argument can be presented before the court. On the one hand, this is a necessary remedy, because some challenges are legitimate.
This being stated, in many instances, parties will step forward to slow down an already lengthy process when they really do not have strong cases.
The events that take place during probate become matters of public record. As a result, anyone that is interested can obtain probate records to find out how the assets were distributed. This loss of privacy is generally disturbing, and “too much information” can potentially cause hard feelings among interested parties.
Probate Can Be Effectively Avoided
If you do not like what you are reading about probate, the good news is that you can intentionally avoid probate when you are planning your estate. The most commonly used alternative to a last will would be a revocable living trust. Asset distributions after the passing of the grantor of the trust would not be subject to the costly and time-consuming probate process.
The avoidance of probate is one major advantage, but there are others, including the ability to prepare for potential incapacity. You can also include spendthrift protections, and the terms are completely flexible throughout your life.
Attend a Free Seminar
We are holding a number of seminars over the coming weeks, and we encourage you to attend the session that fits into your schedule. These learning opportunities are offered on a complimentary basis, but we do ask that you register in advance so that we can reserve your seat.
Visit our seminar schedule page and follow the simple instructions to sign up for the date that works for you.
Schedule a Consultation Right Now!
Our doors are open if you are ready to skip the preliminaries and schedule a consultation with a licensed estate planning attorney. You can send us a message to request an appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 513-721-1513 or 513.721.1513.