One area of concern when people begin estate planning is the probate process. This is the process of resolving your final wishes and distributing your property after you pass away. Some people create an estate plan that intentionally avoids probate at all costs. However, probate is not always a bad thing. Here is a look at the benefits and downsides so that you can start to consider what’s best for your situation:
Pros of probate
Probate is essentially supervision over the distribution of your estate. Having court overlook the process can keep everything organized.
On top of that, because a neutral party (the court) is overseeing the process, family conflicts are less likely. It is possible that someone could contest your will, or challenge its validity. Even if someone does not contest it, emotional times could cause tension and disagreement about how everything plays out. Court can resolve these conflicts and ensure your wishes are followed according to your will.
Once probate has begun, creditors have a time limit to make claims on your property for any debts you still owed. If they do not make their claims in time, they will no longer have rights to your assets.
Cons of probate
Probate has quite a few costs associated with it. Various fees for the process could be taken out of your estate. It is also a public process and your will becomes a public document. If privacy is a concern, probate will not meet this need.
The main drawback that makes people avoid probate, though, is the length of time. Probate can drag out for months or even years. If the family is still mourning or coping with the loss, it can be very stressful to deal with probate. It can even become a barrier to moving on if the family is still working on distributing your estate a year after you have passed.
Is probate right for me?
There is no definitive answer to whether probate is good or bad. That all depends on your situation and your wishes. Avoiding probate is possible for some families but you may decide probate is a better option for you. No matter what you decide, an estate planning attorney can be beneficial and even crucial when you are planning your estate.