3 Reasons to Avoid Probate. In today's video, we examine the 3 reasons you might want to avoid an Oklahoma Probate.
There is no doubt that in some situations a simple will, certain medical documents and a durable power of attorney are all that is necessary. However, today we will discuss the pitfalls of not have a complete estate plan and how it affects your estate and family.
- Today, we'll discuss the three reasons why you want to avoid probate.
You know, when you pass away, unless you have a trust, your family most likely will need to go to the probate court to get their inheritance and to pay debts. This is especially true if your assets like your house, car, or bank account are only in your name. For some reason, a lot of people think if they have a will then their assets magically are transferred somehow to their heirs, and that is simply not true.
Although having a will is a good basic form of estate planning, a will does not avoid probate or the probate court. Instead, a will simply informs the probate court of your wishes, but your family still has to go through the probate process to make those wishes legal. So here are three reasons why you want to avoid probate.
First, it's a public record. Everything that goes through the probate court becomes a matter of public record. This means that when your estate goes through the probate, all your family and financial information becomes public record. All your nosy neighbor needs is an internet connection to find out about your stuff.
They don't even have to go down to the courthouse anymore to access your probate records. That means that the value of your assets, creditor claims, the identity of your beneficiaries, and even family disagreements that might come up will all be a mouse click away. Now, I would imagine that if you are like most people, you would prefer to keep this type of information private. And the best way to keep things private is to keep your estate out of probate and out of the probate court.
Second, probate can be expensive. Thanks to court costs, attorney fees, executor fees and other related expenses, the price tag for probate can easily reach into the thousands of dollars. We regularly see even small estates with no disputes costing a minimum of around $3500, but usually it's around five thousand.
These costs easily skyrocket into the tens of thousands if family members start fighting and creditor claims come up. The money from your estate should be going to your beneficiaries, but if it goes through the probate process, a significant portion could go to court costs and legal fees instead. Now creating an estate plan that avoids probate does cost money up front, but with proper planning, you can minimize the risk of conflict, reduce or eliminate certain costs, and create a plan that does exactly what you want to happen to protect you and your family.
Third, probate can take a while. It's not unusual for estates, even small ones, to be held up in probate court for six months to a year. During that time, your beneficiaries may not have access to funds or assets for their needs and to pay debts. Bypassing probate can significantly speed up the distribution of assets, so beneficiaries can benefit sooner rather than later.
The good news in all this is that with proper trust-centered estate planning, you can avoid probate and simplify the transfer of your assets. To learn more, give us a call for an appointment. Remember, our initial estate planning consultation is always free here at the Cortes Law Firm.
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