Probate is the process by which a court reviews a will, deems it to be valid and appoints someone to execute it. In Florida, the probate process can be expensive because it involves hiring an attorney and filing papers with the court. Floridians can take action before probate is necessary through other legal channels and estate planning to avoid lengthy probate processes and ensure the best outcome for heirs.
Expenses associated with probate can include attorney’s fees and court costs throughout the entire process. There is certainly a time and place for probate administration, and the expense is appropriate when the distribution of property among heirs is being contested. For families that don’t have such disputes, estate planning through the creation of a revocable living trust may let heirs skip probate altogether.
Money isn’t the only reason some people might want to avoid probate. For some heirs, time spent in probate means time lost on the sale or distribution of assets. When assets include real estate or a business, time can be important. If you want to pass on control of a business, planning ahead ensures a smooth transition.
The probate process requires filing documents with the court, which makes a number of things public record. The media or general public can gain insight into the family’s finances, and the court may become involved in distributing payments to creditors. Many courts publish probate information on websites, making it easy for anyone in the world to research the financial situation of your family or heirs.
There is an appropriate time for every legal action. When planning your estate, it helps to understand the court system and how to save yourself and your heirs money. Planning ahead can make the probate process as easy as possible for all.
Source: TC Palm, “The problem with probate” Robert Schwartz, Jan. 23, 2014