What is probate?
Probate is the legal process that occurs after a person passes away, during which their assets are distributed according to their wishes or state law if there is no will. The probate court oversees this process to ensure that the deceased person’s debts are paid and their assets are distributed fairly.
Does having a will prevent probate?
Even if you have a will, it does not prevent probate. The court must still validate the will to ensure that it meets all legal requirements. The court will appoint an executor or personal representative to manage the estate, who is responsible for identifying and valuing the assets, paying outstanding debts, and distributing the assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. If there is no will, the probate court will follow state law to determine who inherits the assets.
What are some of the hidden costs of probate?
Probate can be a lengthy, complex, and expensive process. It can also be emotionally challenging for the deceased person’s loved ones. Some of the costs of probate might include:
- Court fees: There are fees associated with filing the probate petition and other documents with the court.
- Executor fees: The executor of the estate is entitled to a fee, which can be a percentage of the estate’s value or an hourly rate.
- Attorney fees: An attorney is often necessary to navigate the probate process, and their fees can add up quickly.
- Appraisal fees: If the estate includes valuable assets, such as real estate or artwork, appraisals may be necessary, and the fees for those appraisals can be significant.
- Accounting fees: The executor may need to hire an accountant to handle tax filings and other financial matters, which can add to the overall cost.
- Real estate commissions: If the estate includes real estate that needs to be sold, the commissions paid to the real estate agents can be significant.
- Loss of privacy: Probate is a public process, which means that anyone can access the court records and learn about the details of the estate.
It’s important to note that these costs can vary depending on the size and complexity of the estate.
Is there a way to avoid probate?
To avoid probate, many people choose to set up a trust. A trust is a legal document that allows you to transfer your assets to a trust during your lifetime. The trust then distributes your assets to your chosen beneficiaries after your death, without going through probate.
If you’re considering setting up a trust to avoid probate, it’s important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. They can help you determine if a trust is the right decision for your unique situation and assist you in creating and managing the trust.
At Windrose Law Center PLC, our estate planning attorneys can help you navigate the probate process and determine if a trust is the right choice for you. Contact us today at 602-457-1846 to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you plan for the future.