Probate Pros & Cons
In estate planning circles, the word “probate” holds the same status as the terms “disease” or “illness” in the medical world. The reason for this reaction — especially with people who have larger than average estates — is because financial planners do their utmost to keep clients’ properties from going to probate whenever possible. Nevertheless, the probate system was originally established as a means of protecting property when someone passed.
Thanks to the probate system, heirs have a chance to take matters to court to obtain their loved one’s properties even if they were not named in a will. So why do people do people think the worst of probate? Is there any redeeming value in probate? You may be surprised that the answer is, “Yes.” Here are the pros and cons of going through probate.
In some cases, especially estates in which no will was left, the system was designed to make sure assets are distributed according to state law. Here are some potential advantages of probating an estate:
- Probate provides a trustworthy procedure for redistributing property in the absence of a will.
- If a will does exist, probate validates and enforces the intentions of the deceased.
- The probate procedures ensure taxes and claimed debts are paid on the estate, so any deceased person’s affairs are decisively handled, rather than indefinitely lingering and open-ended.
- When a decedent has debt, probate gives a brief window for creditors to file a claim. As a result, probate allows for the potential of debt forgiveness.
- For distributing smaller estates, probate can be cost effective. Filing fees vary by state. But most charge three figures instead of thousands for filing.
While probate is intended to be used to fairly facilitate the transfer of property after someone dies, bypassing the process can be preferable for these reasons:
- A matter of public record, probate filing means that private family and financial information is released to the public.
- Despite modest filing fees, litigation can be costly when you consider court, attorney, and executor fees, all of which are typically deducted from the value of the estate.
- One of the most widely known facts about probate is that it can be time-consuming. Probate can delay distribution of the assets for months or even years.
- The probate process can be complicated and stressful for your executor and your beneficiaries.
In conclusion, while probate is a default mechanism that ultimately works to enforce fair distribution of small estates, it can lead to undue cost and delays. Therefore, many people prefer to use alternative strategies to make sure their property stays out of probate after their death. A skilled estate planning attorney can help you develop a strategy to avoid probate and make life easier for your heirs. For more information about your options, contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Keeping your estate planning binder secure and up to date will reduce confusion as well as the likelihood of disputes. Whatever your circumstances, rest assured that the professionals at Skvarna Law can help you to determine the best way to handle your trust. Skvarna Law Firm operates offices in Glendora and Upland, California and provides legal services for individuals living in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside Counties. This includes the cities of Upland, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Colton, Rialto, Chino, Chino Hills, Glendora, Claremont, Montclair, Pomona, La Verne, San Dimas, Azusa, Covina, West Covina, Diamond Bar, Walnut, La Puente, Corona, Norco & Mira Loma. Visit SkvarnaLaw.com to learn more.