Probate is a legal process used by courts to distribute the assets of a person after death. Some people choose to take steps to avoid the probate process during estate planning.
What are the benefits of avoiding probate?
How probate works
Probate courts usually handle probate cases. Washington state law governs the probate process which involves multiple steps:
- Determining if a will is valid
- Making sure that the estate pays all its debts
- Documenting property of the decedent
- Distributing the decedent’s assets according to the will and applicable state laws
Benefits of avoiding probate
The top advantage of avoiding probate is cost savings. Estates that go through probate usually must pay attorney fees. If the decedent owned property in more than one state, the estate may have to pay for probate proceedings in multiple states.
Avoiding probate can also save time. A complex probate case can take several years to resolve. Additionally, probate cases become part of the public record. Families who prefer to keep their affairs private may wish to avoid this by avoiding probate.
Drawbacks of avoiding probate
While avoiding the probate process can save money, the steps taken to avoid probate, such as creating a trust, can cost more than creating a will. Taxes may also be higher when distributing assets from a trust. Additionally, a person wishing to avoid probate must take care during estate planning to include all assets or some may still go through probate.
Avoiding probate requires careful estate planning. However, for some people, the extra time and expense upfront may be worth it.