A last will is an estate planning vehicle that is often misunderstood. You may think that people get called into a room to sit for a “reading of the will” at the reception after a funeral. Once everyone knows who gets what, the executor makes it happen, and it all gets done quickly and easily among family members and close associates. This is the fiction, but you can keep reading to find out the facts.
If you maintain direct personal possession of your property throughout your life and arrange for its transfer through the terms of a last will, the will would be admitted to probate after your passing. An executor or personal representative would conduct the business of the estate, but the overall administration of the estate would be supervised by the probate court. This would be true if you had a will, but it would also be the case if you had no estate planning documents at all.
Probate is in place to serve a purpose, but it is not entirely positive for the rightful heirs to an estate. Let’s look at four of the drawbacks that go along with the probate process.
As you go through your life making financial decisions, you probably play your cards close to the vest as they say. Your business is personal, and privacy is important to most of us.
Probate is a public proceeding. As a result, any interested party could access probate records to find out how you decided to plan your estate. This can be generally disconcerting, but in addition to this, there can be people close to you that would not be happy with your decisions. As a result, acrimony can ensue among your family members and/or associates.
The probate process does not run its course overnight. First off, there is a proving of the will. The court must examine the document to determine its validity. Final debts must be paid during the probate process, so the personal representative must notify creditors. They are given a particular amount of time to come forward.
During the process, the executor must identify and inventory the assets that comprise the estate. Appraisals and liquidation of property may be necessary, and it can take time to sell property at fair prices.
The exact duration of the probate process is going to vary depending on the exact nature of the circumstances. A best case scenario would be around eight months to a year, and complicated cases can take considerably longer.
If any interested party is disgruntled, a will challenge could be issued during the probate process. This can make the situation extraordinarily messy, and it can extend an already lengthy process.
A considerable amount of money can be spent during the probate process. First off, there will be a filing fee with the court. The personal representative is going to put in a lot of time and energy performing the estate administration tasks, so he or she is entitled to payment.
Since probate is a legal proceeding, the personal representative will typically bring in a probate attorney. As a result, there will be legal expenses incurred during the probate process.
The final debts that must be paid would include final taxes. An accountant is often engaged by the personal representative to handle this aspect of the process, so there can be accounting fees.
Property appraisals are going to cost money, and there can be liquidation expenses piled on. When you top it all off with the miscellaneous expenses that will invariably present themselves, a considerable amount of money can be lost during probate.
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Fortunately, there are methods that can be utilized to get money into the hands of your loved ones after you die outside of the laborious process of probate. If you would like to gain an understanding of the possibilities, download our estate planning worksheet. It is being offered free of charge by our Mount Clemens estate planning lawyers, and you click this link to obtain access to your copy.
Of course, if you would rather make a direct connection, you can send us a message through our contact page or call us at 586-493-7661 to schedule a consultation.