Probate refers to the legal process by which the assets of a deceased person are distributed to his or heirs. In court, the judge will first use the assets to pay off outstanding debts and distribute the remaining assets to heirs. However, probate has several drawbacks, and that’s why many people try to avoid it.
Here are the top reasons to avoid probate:
It’s a Long Process
Because the courts control probate, the process can be very slow. The courts aren’t in any kind of hurry to complete the process, so it often takes more than a year. If you have a more complicated estate plan, the probate process may take even longer. You don’t want your family members waiting years to receive the assets they’re entitled to. This is especially true for family members who are struggling financially and could benefit from receiving assets sooner.
The probate process is handled by the court, so all of your important legal documents will be available for the public to see. That means anyone can look up the value of your debts and assets. If you’re a private person, you likely don’t want strangers knowing this type of information. Additionally, the publicity of these records could make your heirs targets for scammers.
It Can Be Expensive
Probate can also get quite pricey. When an estate goes through probate, the court will take a portion of it in probate fees. Sometimes these fees can be as much as 10 percent of the estate. The money from your estate should be going to your heirs. If it goes through probate, a large portion of it will go to the courts and creditors.
How Can I Avoid Probate?
Now that you know about all the downsides to probate, you probably want to know how you can avoid it. The easiest way to avoid probate is to establish a living trust. If you have a trust in place, your assets can be distributed to your heirs in private and don’t require probate. In your trust, you can specify what you want to happen with your assets when you die.
Consulting With an Estate Planning Lawyer
If you’re ready to establish a living trust, you should speak to a reputable estate planning lawyer as soon as possible. A trust is a complex legal document, so you want someone with knowledge and experience on your side. An estate planning lawyer, like an estate planning lawyer in Philadelphia, PA, can help you create a valid trust in an efficient manner and answer all your questions along the way. Many estate planning lawyers offer free initial consultations, so there’s no risk of speaking to one.
Thank you to Klenk Law for their insight into reasons to avoid probate.