Take the time to plan your estate now, so your family doesn’t have to go through the hassle of probate court later. You may think your bases are covered because you plan to leave behind a will. However, while your will can provide information on how you wish to distribute your assets, your loved ones will still need to go through a court process called probate in order to execute your wIll.
These are the top reasons why it may be better for you to plan ahead with a thorough estate plan, including a Revocable Living Trust, so that probate court is unnecessary for your loved ones.
1. Probate Court Is Time Consuming
Probate often takes many months for a small estate and sometimes up to several years for a complicated probate estate. The exact amount of time that you can expect probate court to continue depends on the unique facts of the case. More assets mean more time. Also, probate usually involves multiple people and with this comes more challenges. Are the beneficiaries in your last will easily ascertainable, or are there many parties involved? Finally, while we all have the best hopes that our families will get along during the process, the reality is that dealing with disputes is very common. All of these factors can leave your loved ones in a lengthy probate court process.
2. Heirs Are Denied Access to Immediate Funds
Until probate is officially opened, which could take weeks or even months and requires a court order, your surviving spouse or other heirs may not have access to your finances or bank accounts. This means they are financially responsible for a wide range of expenses – including funeral costs, household utilities, property insurance, taxes, living expenses and more. This can be a substantial burden for your loved ones during what is already a very difficult time.
3. Costly Process = Less Left Behind for Family
Not only are your heirs denied access to immediate funds, once the probate process starts court costs will accrue throughout the entire process. Most probate attorneys charge a minimum of $3,500 all the way up to 5% of the estate to assist families with probate court. Plus, more time in court means more fees that need to be paid. While all these fees are payable out of your estate, or from the sale of assets you intended to leave to your heirs, the result is less assets left behind for them.
Skip the Hassle
Don’t like the idea of a probate judge interfering with your family financial matters, or the burden that probate court can place on loved ones? Make sure your family can focus on healing in the event of your death and not scrambling to get through the probate process.
Be prepared with a thorough estate plan. Our attorneys at Mattingly Ford are here to help with comprehensive estate planning services. Connect with us for no-pressure conversation – give us a call today at (502) 814-9860.