If you are like most in Woodland Hills, your knowledge of estate planning is limited. You may often hear people say that you want to avoid having your estate go to probate at all costs. Yet then you may hear reports like that from the Judicial Council of California that state that there were 41,419 filings in probate court in the state in 2014. If so many cases do eventually go to probate court, can the process really be all that bad?
The decision to try and avoid probate is a personal one. You should know, however, that there are some disadvantages that your beneficiaries will have deal with during the probate process. These include:
- Slow processing times: Most estate cases go to probate facing no disputes from beneficiaries. Even still, the probate process itself can be extremely slow. Oftentimes, it can take up to a full year.
- Unwanted publicity: Probate cases are processed through public courts. Thus, the particulars of your estate become public record. This could lead to your beneficiaries to become targets for people looking to defraud them.
- High costs: The costs of your estate going through probate courts are paid directly from the assets of the estate itself. These can include courts costs and attorney’s fees. In the end, these expenses could end up costing 5-10 percent of the value of your estate.
A simple way to avoid probate is by placing your assets in a trust. This allows you to manage the assets in the trust while you are still alive, and to specify how they are to be administered after you are gone. While this suggestion should not be taken to be legal advice, it can save your loved ones from having to deal with a lot of costly red tape down the road.