It isn’t uncommon for some people to first realize that they need to create an estate plan after they come into contact with the often aggravating probate process, typically as a result of a family member passing away. Estate planning lawyers often tell clients that they should create an estate plan that does as much as possible to minimize probate. But why do they do this? Why is avoiding probate so important? Here are three main reasons.
The probate process involves a probate court and all the requirements that come along with it. Court filing fees in California are already over $400 and they increase regularly. There are also publication fees for posting notices in local papers which can also cost hundreds of dollars. The cost of probate also include the fees of a probate attorney to assist the executor with the case. The executor is also entitled to a fee. Attorney’s fees are not cheap, and if a problem happens or a legal challenge arises, probate fees can quickly balloon into something much larger than expected. In California, the statutorily authorized for attorney fees in a $500,000 probate is currently $13,000.00. The executor is also entitled to the same fee.
Probates in California regularly take a minimum of nine to twelve months to complete. But some can become a nightmare of bureaucratic procedures and courtroom fights. In the worst cases probate can last years and people who expect to receive an inheritance could end up waiting far longer than they ever thought possible.
Probate cases are open to the public. This means that all the court records will be made available for inspection to anyone who wants to view them. By creating an estate plan that avoids probate you will not only save time and money, but also ensure that your estate is kept as private as possible. In a growing number of counties in California, probate records are available via online searches on the county court websites.
Comprehensive and effective planning with a living trust can avoid the problems with probate. However, don’t be tempted to cut corners with cut rate plans available on web sites or at low quality “trust mills”. Instead, protect your loved ones with a top quality plan created by an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney.