Probate is the legal process in which the court distributes the assets you leave behind after your death. It happens whether you have a last will. The court generally does its best to honor your wishes if you do. If you do not, the court usually distributes your assets according to relevant statutes and guidelines.
Many people start estate planning to bypass or reduce the impact of probate. There are usually three reasons behind such an approach.
Probate can take time
During probate, the court takes stock of all your properties before distributing these to your heirs. This process alone might take time, especially if you have a sizable estate with various types of assets. Some heirs may also contest your will and file lawsuits that can prolong the process further. In some instances, probate can take years to finish.
Probate costs a lot of money
Completing the probate process can cost your heirs a lot on filing and lawyer’s fees. If you appoint a third party to act as your executor, you or your beneficiaries may have to pay them too. These costs also tend to compound the longer the process takes.
Probate is generally public
Some people want to avoid probate on account of their privacy. As with other court processes, documents and information in probate usually become court records available to the public. People can look up your assets, and your beneficiaries might become targets for scammers and burglars.
Avoiding the probate process takes more than just writing a will. An estate planning attorney can help you through the different ways to avoid probate and protect your assets and intended beneficiaries.