If you are interested in estate planning but have not yet done a lot of research into the subject you will see mention of “probate avoidance strategies” when you do take the plunge. Many people who are new to the subject of estate planning are not entirely sure of what probate is let alone why a person would want to avoid it, so we would like to provide a broad overview.
When you expire your estate passes through a legal process that is called probate, and during this interim the probate or surrogate court in the jurisdiction that is local to you determines the validity of the will and supervises the administration of the estate.
During this time anyone who wanted to contest the will would be able to do so, and creditors and/or claimants against the estate would be permitted to file claims. Once the will has been deemed valid and creditors have been satisfied the executor inventories and distributes the assets in accordance with the wishes of the deceased as stated in the will.
Many people consult with estate planning attorneys in an effort to devise probate avoidance strategies, and their motivation is largely threefold: probate is costly, it is time-consuming, and it is public.
The objective that most people have when they are engaged in estate planning is to enable the transfer of their assets to their loved ones quickly and efficiently without losing anything in the process.
Since an estate can be hung up in probate for several months to several years at a cost of anywhere from perhaps 3% to more than 7% of the overall value of the estate it is somewhat antithetical to these aims. In addition, probate provides an open forum for disgruntled parties who may want to challenge the will, and many people would prefer to avoid this as well.
Avoiding probate can be the logical choice for many people, and the best way to learn more about probate avoidance is to contact an experienced estate planning attorney to arrange for an initial consultation.