Probate is the legal process by which property of a decedent transfers to his named beneficiaries, and the court approves every action during this process. Additionally, probate provides a court-supervised method to pay final debts and taxes.
If you’re planning your estate, it’s important you know both the pros and cons of probate so you can make the best possible decision for your situation.
Benefits of Going Through Probate
Especially for small estates or in cases where the decedent has passed without possessing a will, probate can provide advantages for estate management as a whole, including:
- Protecting assets. During probate, the court makes sure that creditors and named beneficiaries receive their allotment of the estate.
- Providing structure. Especially when no will or named executor exists, probate allows debt and tax payments, inheritance disbursement, and filing of proper paperwork to occur within an organized structure.
- Allowing for safe disputes. If no will exists, or if a family member contests the validity of a will, a probate judge can mediate and help two parties come to a fair agreement.
Probate Has Disadvantages, Too
Some assets can avoid probate. However, if probate is necessary to close an estate, the process can become complicated and tedious. Among the most common criticisms of the probate process are these:
- Probate takes lots of time. Probate can last anywhere from six to 18 months—and during this time, and estate’s administrator must sit through meetings with lawyers and court officials, fill out paperwork, and appear in court. Additionally, if the executor must liquidate an estate to pay its debts, it takes time to sell real property and other tangible assets.
- Probate takes lots of money. Often, some assets aren’t eligible to pass to beneficiaries outside of probate, and when this occurs, a large percentage of assets may be lost to taxes and fees—up to 10 percent.
- Probate exposes private business to public view. During probate, information about an estate’s contents becomes public record, so the details of a person’s finances and wishes are open to everyone.
Quality Legal Help at Your Fingertips
If you are ready to begin planning your estate or have questions about how to act as an executor for a loved one, we’re here to speak with you. The experienced legal team at Teague Campbell can help you plan for your future, understand the steps of probate, and file paperwork properly. To get in contact with us, start a live online chat on our website today.