Probate is the legal process of transferring property and distributing assets through the court system after a person’s death. Often times, the probate process also involves the proving of a legitimate Last Will and Testament, the payment of any creditors, the filing of the deceased’s taxes, and the changing of ownership of real estate and/or personal property.
The probate process isn’t one that many look forward to – it’s time consuming, complex, and court-supervised. These reasons, as well as those listed below, are some of the top justifications for wishing to avoid the probate process:
Probate Is Public
One reason that many people wish to avoid probate is the fact that probate proceedings, which are managed by the court, are public. This means that the assets, debts, and Last Will and Testament of the deceased beloved family member will be recorded in the public record. Many families who hope to protect their privacy will attempt to avoid the probate process for this reason alone.
The Probate Process Is Long and Tedious
Not only is the probate process public, but it can also take weeks or months to conclude. This can be stressful and burdensome, both for the administrator of the estate (who is responsible for executing the probate process) and beneficiaries who are waiting to have assets distributed to them. The process can also be tedious – the estate administrator may need to prove the validity of a Last Will and Testament, perform an inventory of all assets, notify all creditors of the decedent’s death, determine heirs, and more as part of the probate process.
Probating a Last Will and Testament Can Be Expensive
How much a Last Will and Testament costs to probate will depend, in large part, on the size of the estate; filing fees in Massachusetts range drastically – view Massachusetts’ probate fee schedule online for more details. In addition to a filing fee other costs you may encounter include appraiser’s fees, administrative expenses, and attorneys’ fees as well.
Probate Is Court-Supervised
Losing a loved one is hard enough; having to be told by a court how to manage the deceased’s assets can be frustrating. In fact, sometimes a judge may make a decision about the estate that is contrary to what you or your family wishes. And because court approval may be necessary at every step in the process, you may find yourself waiting for the court to approve decisions ranging from the appointment of an estate administrator to the approval of inventory of the estate, to the requirement of a formal appraisal before property can be sold, and more.
When assets do not pass through probate, on the other hand, and are instead held in a trust, there is much more flexibility in how the property will be managed, and the process will not require formal supervision. Trusts can be expense to have prepared; the value of a person’s assets should be considered before having one prepared.
Learn More About Avoiding Probate
Fortunately, the probate process is not always necessary, and by having a comprehensive estate plan in place, you may be able to avoid it entirely, even without a trust. To learn more about the probate process in Massachusetts and how to mitigate it, reach out to estate planning and elder law lawyer Patricia Bloom-McDonald, Attorney at Law. You can reach Patricia Bloom-McDonald, Attorney at Law by phone or online today to schedule your initial, no-cost, one hour consultation.