What is Probate and Why Do I Want to Avoid It?

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Probate is essentially the court supervised method of identifying assets and liabilities and heirs and beneficiaries for the distribution of assets once a person is deceased. The process of probate court can become tedious and lengthy, resulting in months and possibly years of waiting for a resolution and the release of assets, property and/or funds. The wise way to avoid probate involves preparation through estate planning.

Why Try to Avoid Probate?

The time-consuming aspect of probate is enough for most people to want to avoid it when possible, but there are four other reasons to avoid probate.

  1. It is Public – Probate is a public proceeding where all the hearings, documents, and aspects of the process is made public. Anyone can view probate information online, which includes details about your finances, family members, and property. It could even be made available for viewing online. Probate courts require filing an inventory of your entire estate as well as an accounting of said estate, and it is all there accessible to the public.
  2. It Can Be Expensive – Probate court can cost a lot of money, which may dig into your heirs’ or beneficiaries’ personal funds and their inheritance. Court filing fees are consistently on the rise across the country to raise revenue for the court system. Some outrageous fees have been proposed in the past by states like Florida to increase filing fees to $5,000. Fortunately for Floridians, the fees were raised from $285 to $400 instead. You want to avoid these fees, especially with the ever-changing court costs.
  3. It is Supervised – Your family is basically at the mercy of the probate court judge in regard to all your business and personal property and assets. Sometimes the court interferes and interjects its own rules, which can be invasive. Estate planning can help you avoid all that.
  4. It Can Affect Access to Cash – If you want your family, heirs, and/or beneficiaries to have immediate access to your assets and property, you will do what you can to avoid probate. Since the process can take weeks, months, or years to obtain access to a decedent’s assets, heirs are responsible for paying for the legal and court fees out of their own pockets. This also includes any mortgages, property insurance, taxes, and other outstanding fees related to the estate. One way to avoid the cash flow issue is to name someone on your account(s) like your spouse, adult child, or a friend you trust.

Ways to Avoid Probate

Using the appropriate estate plan will help you avoid the probate process. Some of the options to speak with your estate planning attorney in Arizona include the following:

  • Living or Revocable Trusts
  • Gifts
  • Beneficiary Designations
  • Joint Property Ownership

Before choosing your ideal estate planning solutions, speak with a qualified lawyer about your situation and get professional advice regarding your estate and what options you have for avoiding the tedious probate process.

If you need help with avoiding probate, are interested in learning more about avoiding probate court, or if you need help navigating the probate process, feel free to schedule a free 30-minute consultation and let us assist you in your estate planning goals today.

This article is provided as a public service by the Law Offices of C. David Martinez, PLLC. While the information on this site is about legal issues, it is not legal advice or legal representation. Because of the rapidly changing nature of the law and our reliance upon outside sources, we make no warranty or guarantee of the accuracy or reliability of information contained herein.

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