Benjamin Franklin once said, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes.” If you don’t have a trust and your estate is larger than $150,000, then your heirs can count on the certainty of Probate too.
Probate is a court supervised process necessary to transfer assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries when a person dies without a trust. Because probate can be a lengthy and laborious process that can take anywhere from nine months to over a year to complete, it should be avoided. The only way to avoid probate, without giving away rights to your property while you are still living, is by creating a trust. Even the existence of a will cannot circumvent Probate.
During the Probate administration, beneficiaries have limited access to the assets, which poses problems when beneficiaries cannot afford to pay the decedent’s mortgage or other expenses, but have no authority to sell the assets either. A probate court must review all assets and cannot distribute them until the conclusion of the matter. Trusts offer an easy solution since a decedent’s assets held in a trust can be immediately sold or conveyed upon the testator’s death without court approval.
Sparing the expense of preparing a trust will only result in a higher cost to the estate in the future. Generally, the cost of a probate will exceed the cost of managing and distributing comparable assets held in a trust. Additionally, Attorney’s fees in probate are fixed by statute, unlike the cost of an attorney to prepare a trust, which can be negotiated.
The loss of a loved one is a sad time for family and friends. The attorneys at Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde are experienced in navigating probate. We can assist you with the probate process so that you can focus on your family.