A Will Requires Probate Court
One of the biggest estate planning myths we hear from clients is the belief that by having a Will, their loved ones won’t need to go to court after they die.
This is sadly the opposite of the truth.
If you use only a Will as your main method of estate planning, you are actually guaranteeing that your loved ones will go to court after you die because a Will is required by law to go through the court system called probate before any of your assets can be distributed. In fact, a will is only effective within the probate court.
Once your Will is admitted to the court after your death, your personal representative or executor will be given official authority to move your assets under the court’s supervision. This ensures your property is distributed according to your wishes and that the court can intervene if there are any disputes over who gets what.
While court oversight can be helpful if there is any confusion or disagreement about your estate, the probate process is long and expensive. For very small estates the process may take about 6 months, but for most estates, the process can take 12 - 18 months or sometimes even more.
Due to the length and complexity of the process, going through probate can easily cost your family tens of thousands of dollars. Some states even require that probate cost a certain percentage of your estate’s value.
In addition, because probate is a public court proceeding, your Will becomes part of the public record upon your death, allowing everyone to see the contents of your estate, who your beneficiaries are, and what they’ll receive. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for scammers to use this information to try to take advantage of young or vulnerable beneficiaries who just inherited money from you.
Posted by Suren G. Adams, Adams Law Office, LLC
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