Should You Avoid Probate?

One of the many decisions you will need to make about your estate plan is whether you want to avoid probate. Probate is the legal process for settling an estate after someone has died. It is also known as estate administration. The main purpose of probate is to provide inheritors of a deceased person’s property with clear title to the property.

During probate, the decedent’s personal representative (also called the executor) locates the decedent’s assets, pays his or her debts, and distributes the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries named in the will or heirs specified by state law.

Here are three reasons why you might prefer for your estate to pass outside probate:

  1. Probate expenses. Cost is probably the most important reason people decide to avoid probate.
  2. Probate can take a long time. Probate is not typically a fast process. A minimum of several months is usually required. During this time, the beneficiaries typically have to wait to get their distributions. By contrast, when probate avoidance methods are used, property transfers can typically be completed in weeks.
  3. Probate filings are public. Many court probate filings are a matter of public record. Probate could open up information to the public that you would prefer to keep confidential.
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