Probate has been described as a lawsuit you file against yourself after you die at your expense for the benefit of your creditors. A less cynical definition of Probate is a court (and related process) charged with (among other things) the administration of disabled persons and their estates, as well as the orderly distribution of assets to the next legal owner after a person’s death. It’s a good thing. Without it, there would be chaos, or at least uncertainty, when people became disabled or passed away without an effective estate plan.
Nevertheless, there are three reasons most people wish to avoid probate:
- it costs too much: One national study of probate costs found that the average cost of probate administration was between 4% and 10% of the gross probate estate. By contrast, the national average cost of a trust settlement is about 2.5% of the gross trust assets, but can be much less if the planning is done well and carefully maintained during the trustmaker’s life.
- it takes too long: There is work to be done after someone passes away. The national average length of the probate process is 13 months, but ranges from a few months to several years. By contrast, trust settlement can often be completed within 9 months.
- it is fully public: At one time, access to the names and addresses of your beneficiaries and how much you were leaving them was available to anyone who asked. This can cause significant trouble for your beneficiaries Changes in the laws in many jurisdictions in the last 15 years have increased the hurdles one must navigate to obtain this information from the Probate Court, but it is, nevertheless, still obtainable.
With proper planning, probate on death or disability is avoidable. If avoiding probate is one of your goals, please contact us about our Estate Planning services. But if you need to be in Probate to administer a deceased loved one’s estate, or seek Guardianship or Conservatorship to protect a disabled loved one, we’re here to help.
Most traditional estate plans fail. And sometimes those failures can result in disputes that cannot be resolved except in a court of law. We are also here to help with your estate planning related litigation needs. In court, knowledge of trust and estate laws is only part of the equation. Many trust and estate attorneys lack the litigation experience to handle a trust or estate dispute. Similarly, many litigators lack a deep understanding of the trust and estate subject matter. At Legacy Planning Advocates, we combine litigation experience with a deep knowledge of trust and estate law that allows us to handle these disputes from the initial consultation through the conclusion of the dispute. Where many attorneys may be forced to send you to a second attorney to resolve litigation or obtain subject matter expertise, we are able to help you through the entire litigation process.