Many new clients come to their initial meeting with an estate planning attorney with only one goal in mind: to avoid the probate process when they’re gone. While probate does not necessarily have to be a negative experience, there are several drawbacks to allowing your estate to pass via probate rather than by trust or beneficiary designation. Here are a few reasons why many people want to create an estate plan to avoid probate:
1. Probate proceedings can be time-consuming and lengthy. The process typically involves court hearings, paperwork, and legal formalities that can significantly delay the distribution of assets to beneficiaries. Avoiding probate can expedite the transfer of assets and provide beneficiaries with quicker access to their inheritance.
2. Probate can be expensive, as it involves various court fees, attorney fees, executor fees, and potential appraisal or accounting fees. These expenses can significantly reduce the overall value of the estate and the amount available for distribution to beneficiaries. By avoiding probate, individuals can potentially save on these costs and preserve more of their assets for their intended beneficiaries.
3. Probate proceedings are generally a matter of public record, which means that anyone can access information about the estate, its assets, and the identities of beneficiaries. Some people value their privacy and prefer to keep their financial matters confidential. By utilizing methods to avoid probate, such as establishing a living trust, individuals can maintain the privacy of their estate and keep sensitive information out of the public eye.
4. Probate can sometimes lead to disputes and conflicts among family members or other
interested parties. Disagreements over the distribution of assets, claims against the estate, or challenges to the validity of the will can prolong the probate process and create tension within the family. By avoiding probate, individuals can potentially reduce the likelihood of family disputes and maintain harmony among their loved ones.
5. Probate involves the court overseeing the distribution of assets according to state laws and the terms of the will. This means that the court has the final say in how the assets are divided. By utilizing methods such as living trusts or beneficiary designations, individuals can maintain more control over the distribution of their assets and have greater flexibility in determining how their estate should be managed and allocated.
It is important to note that the specific reasons to avoid probate may vary depending on individual circumstances. Consult with one of our skilled estate planning attorneys today to talk about how we can help you avoid the potential downfalls of the probate process and create a plan to protect your legacy.