One of the terms that you will hear mentioned a lot when you begin to look into the subject of estate planning is “probate.” Probate is the legal process that your estate must pass through, and during this interim the validity of the will is determined by the probate or surrogate court. If the will is deemed valid the court will then supervise the administration of the estate, with the actual tasking involve being handled by the executor or personal representative.
This sounds pretty straightforward on the surface, but there are very good reasons why you may want to avoid probate. For one thing, it is time consuming. Depending on the jurisdiction and the complexity of the estate, it can take anywhere from a number of months to a number of years for the process to run its course. The problem with this is that the heirs to the estate may not receive their inheritances until the estate has been probated and closed.
In addition to the time involved, probate is a public proceeding so the results are a matter of public record. Many people would prefer to keep their affairs private. And because the validity of the will is determined during probate, people can step forward and challenge your wishes if they choose to do so. This possibility can be taken out of the equation if you simply arrange for the transfer of assets outside of the probate process.
Another reason why some people choose to avoid probate is because of the costs involved. The court itself charges a fee, and the executor is entitled to payment for his or her time. A probate attorney usually must be brought in by the executor, and an accountant, an appraiser, and an estate liquidator may be necessary. Of course all of these professional entities charge for their services.
These are a few reasons why probate is often avoided; the best way to do so varies depending on the exact nature of your estate and the specifics of your wishes. To learn more about probate avoidance simply arrange for a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney.