When it comes to estate planning, you’ve probably heard that you should avoid probate. While the probate process may be necessary if there’s conflict, there may be no reason for going through the court process when there’s no contesting party. But why exactly should you avoid probate? Below are a few reasons why.
Probate can be expensive
Going through the probate process can be expensive, as there are various fees associated with it. These fees can include court costs, attorney fees, executor fees and appraisal fees. Unfortunately, these fees can add up quickly and can easily eat into the estate’s value.
Probate can be time-consuming
Probate typically takes anywhere between 9 months to 1 ½ years to complete, but in some cases, it can take several years. During this time, the beneficiaries of the estate may be left waiting for their inheritance, which can cause financial strain and frustration.
Probate is a public process
Another downside to probate is that it is a public process. This means anyone can access court records and acquire information about the estate, including the identities of your beneficiaries. This lack of privacy can be uncomfortable for your heirs, especially if there are sensitive issues involved.
Probate can lead to family conflict
If there are disagreements among the heirs or beneficiaries, the probate process can exacerbate those conflicts. In some cases, family members may even challenge the will, which can lead to lengthy and costly legal battles.
There are alternatives to probate
Fortunately, there are several alternatives to probate in California. One of the most popular is a living trust, which allows you to transfer your assets to a trust while you are still alive. Then, when you die, your assets can be distributed to your beneficiaries without the need for probate.
Other alternatives may include the following:
- Joint tenancy
- Beneficiary designations
- Payable-on-death accounts
Probate can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Fortunately, there are several alternatives to probate, and seeking legal guidance can help you determine the best course of action for your situation.