The last will may seem like the estate planning device for you. Even though you may be a layperson, you probably have a good understanding of what a will can accomplish. With a will you can express your final wishes regarding the distribution of your monetary assets to your heirs.
What you may not know about a last will is that your estate must be probated before your heirs receive their inheritances when you use a will as a vehicle of asset transfer.
The Probate Process
Probate is a legal process. During probate the court supervises the administration of the estate. The hands-on tasks are handled by the executor or personal representative.
The people who are named in the will as inheritors are not the only interested parties in many cases. The estate may have outstanding debts. During probate creditors must be notified, and they have a chance to come forward seeking satisfaction.
The executor must pay these debts out of the estate’s assets, and he or she must also prepare the remaining assets for distribution to the heirs. This can include appraisals and liquidation.
Probate is not free. Your first thought may be that your family will incur no further expenses after you create your last will, but this is not the case.
The executor is entitled to payment for his or her time and effort. In many cases the executor will be devoting a good bit of attention to the administration of the estate.
Because probate is a legal process, legal guidance is often necessary. The executor will typically bring in a probate lawyer, so there are some legal expenses involved.
The payment of final debts, including taxes, can require the engagement of a certified public accountant. Appraisers are going to charge for their services, and there can be liquidation expenses as well.
Various other incidental expenses can accumulate during the probate process.
Exactly how much probate is going to cost will vary depending on the exact circumstances in question. Some situations are more complicated than others. Suffice to say that the amount that is spent will often be quite noticeable, and much of this is money that could have gone to the heirs under different circumstances.
Probate can be avoided. This is not to say that it absolutely must be avoided, because the state of Connecticut does a good job of keeping probate as streamlined and efficient as possible. However, if you are interested in exploring probate avoidance strategies they do exist.
To get an idea of the different probate avoidance possibilities that are available to you, take a moment to contact our firm to request a free consultation.