Probate: What it is and why people try to avoid it

Probate: What it is and why people try to avoid itProbate: What it is and why people try to avoid it

Most people will tell you the only thing you need to know about probate is that you should avoid it at all costs. But they rarely answer with specifics when you ask why, simply adding, “Trust me; you don’t want to go there.”

Geez; they make it sound like probate is worse than death or taxes – or both at the same time.

Probate is definitely no laughing matter, and the entire process can get rather confusing, drawn-out, and emotional for everyone involved after a loved one passes away. But the reality is that it’s only as complicated as you make it for your family. This article will define what probate is, why you want to avoid it, and how you can make the process easier.

What is probate?

Whether you want to admit it or not, probate can be a necessary legal proceeding because it helps determine who is the rightful owner of a deceased person’s assets (money, physical property, other items of value). This is especially true if there is no Will or Living Trust and there are obvious disagreements or confusion among family members.

When a person dies before crafting either of these estate planning documents, the court makes a record of their assets and lays out ground rules for how they will be distributed to family members.

Why would you want to avoid Probate?

While probate can act as a clearly-defined process to resolve claims and distribute assets fairly, people dislike it because:

  • Most probate cases are emotional – Emotions run the gamut anytime there is a dispute over the distribution of a loved one’s assets. Even if there aren’t any disputes between family members, the lack of control over the situation is difficult.
  • It can be a really long and complicated process – In cases where there’s no will, property and other valuables can be tied up for months until the court decides how and when it will proceed.
  • It’s expensive – There are probate attorney fees, court fees, etc., all of which can continue to balloon as a case gets drawn out or involves other complexities. Many times, the fees are pulled from the estate itself.
How can you make Probate easier?

The easiest way to avoid probate all together is to have a Living Trust. A trust does not go through probate, and any property listed under its umbrella is protected and can be transferred to the various beneficiaries by the successor trustee. Probate is also a public process. Having a living trust keeps everything private.

Another option is, of course, to have a will drafted by an experienced attorney. Having a will in place makes it much easier for the probate court to determine ownership since everything is spelled out by the owner prior to death.

Call Nelson Law Group today!!

Estate planning is a conversation you should not neglect. And when it comes to protecting your family’s future for years down the road, it is imperative to have an estate planning attorney in your corner at all times. Give our knowledgeable staff here at Nelson Law Group, PC a call if you have any further questions regarding this – or any other – issue.

Give us a call today! For more information about Brett A Nelson click here.