The Pros and Cons of Probate

Saturday, February 28, 2015, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

Going to court, dealing with lawyers, grieving relatives and legal documents is not fun. The process is known as probate, and it’s a reality for many people. You might find yourself participating in the probate process one day.

If this is the case, you’ll want to know as much as you can from the start.

This will help the process go much smoother, and you’ll be better prepared.

Continue reading to find out more about the probate process, as well as a few of its advantages and disadvantages.

  • What Is Probate?

    Probate is a legal process that takes place once someone dies. The term “probate” actually describes two different processes, but they relate to each other.

    The first process has to do with the will of the deceased person. In this process, the will must be proven either valid or invalid. This is known as “probating” a will. This step is usually very straightforward.

    The second process is a little more complicated, and it usually the part of the ordeal people wish to avoid. It deals with the estate of the deceased, which must also be probated.

    This part of the process requires a probate court. If the deceased did not mention his or her estate, or did not leave a will, the court is in charge of appointing a representative to handle and distribute the affected property.

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  • The Pros of Probate

    Probate should be a smooth process, if it is carried out correctly. Ultimately, the goal of probate is to validate the will. After that, it is to ensure that everything is transferred to the rightful heirs. The process should also resolve unpaid debts, if any exist.

    Probate is particularly useful if a case is expected to have complications. The probate court can assist with and clarify these issues as they arise.

  • The Cons of Probate

    While the probate process does accomplish a few very important goals, many people agree that it is an unpleasant procedure. Often, it isn’t even necessary.

    For one thing, the probate process is very time consuming. In some areas it may take over a year. Even the simplest probate processes will last around eight months from start to finish.

    In addition to being time consuming, probate isn’t cheap. There are attorney’s fees, executor’s fees and appraisal’s fees—and more can be expected if something complicates the process in any way.

    Assets inherited by beneficiaries are likely to be withheld for a certain amount of time. This is determined by the court.

    Another disadvantage of the probate process is the lack of privacy. The contents of the will, as well as the beneficiaries, are made part of the public record.

It’s true that the will should be validated by a probate court, but most people agree that the rest of the process is more trouble than it’s worth. You will probably wish to avoid it. If you can’t, however, having a decent probate team may make all the difference.

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