What Is Probate and Why Do People Want to Avoid It
Probate is a term that may not have much meaning for you unless you are in the process of estate planning or are named in somebody else’s estate plan. The word probate has a lot of negative associations for a lot of people, but it is not inherently good or bad. It is just a process.
There is a lot of advice out there on how to avoid probate. If you are currently making an estate plan, it is important to understand that you don’t try to avoid probate yourself. The probate process for your estate doesn’t begin until after you die, so you would avoid it in any case. Avoiding probate means preventing the loved ones that you leave behind from having to go through the process.
What Exactly Is Probate?
In the simplest terms, probate just means distributing your property following your death. While it is a fairly simple concept, it can be a complicated process. First, your will needs validation to be sure that it is authentic and compliant with applicable laws. Next, all of your assets have to be located and gathered. If there are any taxes owed on the estate, these will have to be paid before any assets can be distributed. Only then can the beneficiaries that you name in your will receive the bequests you instructed them to have.
Your estate still goes through probate even if you die without a will. In this case, however, the process can take longer because of the need to value your estate, appoint an administrator over it, and determine how to distribute it.
Why Do People Want To Avoid Probate?
The main reasons that people want to avoid probate relate to money and time. Between appraiser’s fees, attorney costs, executor fees, and other administrative expenses, probate can get very expensive. Courts sometimes try to make money by increasing filing fees in probate cases. These fees can add up quickly and potentially reduce the amount of your beneficiaries’ inheritance since they are payable out of the estate.
The probate process involves multiple steps, such as having appraisals, filling out forms, and abandoning worthless assets. Many of these steps require the approval of the court. Between the number of steps involved and the lack of attention the case may receive from a judge, probate can take many months. In the meantime, your beneficiaries can’t receive their inheritance until it is completed.
It is not always necessary for an estate to go through probate. There are sometimes expedited processes for estates that are very small. If you want to make sure that your estate does not go through probate, then it may be beneficial to contact an probate lawyer from a firm like the Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC.