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Understanding Probate Avoidance

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Understanding Probate Avoidance

Probate Avoidance: The Importance of Making a Will

Talking about probate can be difficult. More often than not, we are strongly advised to avoid it at all costs. Before talking about the merits of probate avoidance, it is important to learn what probate is, how the process works and affects its clients. Probate is a legal process by which the assets of a recently deceased person are properly distributed. During this course of action, a court will take hold of that person’s assets such as money, home(s), stocks and bonds, and even pets, and attempt to allocate the belongings to whomever the court deems appropriate heirs. This is just one of the reasons many people see probate avoidance as necessary; people do not want to trust the courts with their valuables. The best way to ensure that assets are distributed according to the deceased individual’s desires is by leaving behind a will. If an individual has a legally binding will and there are no outstanding issues or concerns, the courts will not interfere with the decedent’s wishes.

There are various reasons why one should opt for probate avoidance. For one, it can be painstakingly slow and dragged out. Most probate cases are handled through a series of clerical work meaning there will be a large amount of paperwork that will need to be completed. In most instances, this process can take from one to three years or possibly longer if the estate has complications or multiple parties involved. For example, if a probate case includes someone contesting the will, the process will potentially be prolonged and the legal bills will be high. Probate will most surely tie up the decedent’s assets until the matter is settled.

Another justification for probate avoidance is that dealing with an estate without a will is typically very expensive. Although costs of probate vary state by state, it is generally an expensive process. First, the court will take a portion of whatever estate is being contested to pay for the legal fees that are incurred. Second, the people working on the case such as lawyers and executors are entitled to compensation for their services and the fees from their work will come directly from the estate. Additional costs such as court filing fees and appraiser’s fees are also added to the bill which provides all the more reason to avoid probate by leaving a written will or living trust.

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