Why Do People Avoid Probate?

If you are about to begin the estate planning process, you may be thinking ahead to probate and wondering, “Should I arrange my estate so that it avoids probate altogether?”

This is a good question indeed and the way you decide to handle it will affect how fast your heirs receive their inheritance and how much your estate will be worth after all debts and taxes are paid.

With or without a valid will, most estates will go through probate. Probate is the court-supervised process of validating a will, paying off an estate’s taxes and debts, and distributing what is left to the beneficiaries of the estate.

Why is it that a lot of people try to avoid probate? These are the reasons that people will try to avoid probate:

  • The process can take up to a year, if not longer to complete.
  • It can tie up the assets for months, if not more than a year.
  • There are costs involved in probate proceedings.

Probate is a Clerical Process

Much of what occurs during probate proceedings is clerical, meaning there is a lot of paperwork involved. While the vast majority of probate cases are conflict-free, and do not involve probate litigation, it does involve attorney fees, executor fees, court costs, appraisal fees and other costs – all routine expenses that are deducted from the estate.

While some people think that one way to cut probate costs is to not hire a probate attorney, unless the personal representative is a probate lawyer, this is unrealistic and probate courts advise against the practice.

You Have Two Options

During the estate planning process, you have two options: 1) avoid probate altogether, or 2) reduce the size of your probate estate. If you reduce the amount of assets and property that are subject to probate, the fees will be reduced and your beneficiaries will get a portion of their inheritance faster.

To learn more about the probate-avoidance methods, contact an estate planning or probate attorney!

Categories: Estate Planning, Probate