The SCARY Facts About Probate

Much of the population do not know that the probate process can make handling a loved one’s estate even more stressful and time consuming, not to mention the high cost of the process. There are risks when it comes to probate, and they should scare you. There are other options besides probate, and choosing to avoid it may be the best thing for you and your loved ones. Know the facts before making a decision that will affect the future of your family.

The Facts:

Sky Rocketing Fees

The probate process is expensive and court fees are on the rise. Local courts are suffering and are seeking funding from every angle. Probate filing fees vary by state, but in California, fees are high and continuing to rise. Courts may also allow “extraordinary fees” in addition to an attorney’s ordinary fees, depending on the complexity of the case. On average, attorney fees and costs for settling living trusts are much lower than the fees for a probate case. End of life expenses can seem unending; by avoiding probate, you will completely remove an entire category of expenses and avoid additional complexity in settling your loved one’s affairs.

Privacy Issues

Keeping family information private is simply not an option when it comes to probate. All personal information such as the identity of the executor and beneficiaries, the decedent’s liabilities and assets, all become open for public viewing as probate is a proceeding in state court. Anyone could access your personal and private information by taking a trip to the local clerk’s office, or in some states, by a quick search online. For those who wish to keep personal information private, avoiding probate is the answer.

Judges as a Roadblock

When it comes to handling an individual’s assets, the to-do list is often expansive and includes stressful, time consuming decisions. Dividing up a business, selling real estate and the deceased’s personal assets… all of this holds the potential to cause extra stress and tension for family and beneficiaries. In probate, all decisions regarding the deceased’s affairs must be approved by a judge, which often takes long periods of time, since you are at the mercy of the court’s schedule. Though a judge can work to protect the deceased’s assets, during probate the court can hinder the process as each asset works its way through the court’s slow but diligent process.

Lack of Prompt Access to Cash

Probate can take months and sometimes years to fully process. In the meantime, the bills for funerals, taxes, utilities, storage, and all other fees tied to the loved one’s passing will not wait. When you file probate, beneficiaries will not receive the assets until the case is closed. Family and friends have no choice but to play the waiting game when it comes to court dates and a judge’s approval. This time of financial and emotional stress is taxing enough; bypassing probate allows timely access to resources while fulfilling the deceased’s wishes so family members can move on with their own lives.

Planning Your Estate Doesn’t Have to be Scary

Taking the time to learn the facts is the first step. You have options. Don’t leave your estate in the hands of the court. At Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC, we are REAL PEOPLE with REAL SOLUTIONS. We understand that estate planning is personal and, at times, complicated, particularly when probate is necessary. With 24 years of combined experience and a specialty in estate planning, we are capable and qualified to understand your unique situation and its dynamics. We guarantee the highest quality counsel and legal representation. Call us today for an appointment to discuss estate planning and probate needs!

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