One of the things that you may want to consider when you are planning your estate is how to avoid probate. Probate is the judicial process of estate administration. The executor or personal representative of the estate pays debts, inventories assets, and prepares them for distribution to the beneficiaries of the estate. The probate court supervises this administration after determining the validity of the will.
The probate court also hears any arguments presented by interested parties who want to challenge the wishes of the deceased. This in itself is one of the reasons why some people choose to avoid probate. They know that sometimes heirs are not pleased with the contents of the will and they want to close the door to any will challenges.
Another reason why people avoid probate is because it can be time-consuming and the heirs to the estate do not receive their inheritances until the estate has been probated and closed.
The final reason is the potential cost. Exactly how much it will cost varies depending on the extent of your assets and the relative complexity of the case. Obviously a long, drawn out contested affair will incur more expenses than one that is simple and straightforward. But probate expenses often consume anywhere from 2% to 5% of the total value of your estate and sometimes even more.
The good news is that there are a number of different strategies that can spare your family the pitfalls that go along with probate. If you would like to explore your options, arrange for a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney.