Answers To Finanical Questions – Avoiding Probate

Avoiding Probate: Is It Worth It?

When you die, your estate goes through a process that manages, settles, and distributes your property according to the terms of your will. This process is governed by state law and is called probate.

Probate proceedings fall under the jurisdiction of the probate court of the state in which you are domiciled at the time of your death. This court oversees probate of your personal property and any real estate that is located in that state. If you own property located in a state other than the state in which you are domiciled at the time of your death, a separate “ancillary” probate proceeding may need to be initiated in the other state.

Probate Assets – Items that are subject to probate are known as Probate assets. Probate assets generally consist of any property that you own individually at the time of your death that passes to your beneficiaries according to the terms of your will.

Nonprobate assets include all property that passes outside of your will.

Why avoid probate?

Most wills have to be probated. The rules vary from state to state, but in some states, smaller estates are exempt from probate, or they may qualify for an expedited process. Probate can be slow. Depending on where your executor probates your estate and the size of your probate estate, the probate process can take as little as three months or as long as three years. It can take even longer if the estate is a complicated one or if any of the heirs are contesting the will. Probate can be costly. Probate costs usually include court costs (filing fees, etc.), publication costs for legal notices, attorney’s fees, executor’s fees, bond premiums, and appraisal fees. Court costs and attorney’s fees can vary from state to state. Typically, the larger the estate, the greater the probate costs.

Probate is a public process. Wills and any other documents submitted for probate become part of the public record, something to consider if you or your family members have privacy concerns.

Next Issue:
Why choose to go through probate?

See your financial professional or attorney for more information.

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