The Common Challenges of Probate
Most people who have heard the word “probate” believe that it is something you generally want to avoid. But what exactly is it about probate that makes it appear to be such an undesirable process?
Probate is the process a court uses to validate a will and allow an estate’s personal representative to pay all taxes and debts and distribute assets per the decedent’s wishes. If there is no will, the court allows any assets and property to be distribute using the guidelines of intestate succession.
Some of the most common pain points associated with probate are the following:
- Legal fees: Before probate can begin in Florida, the heirs of the decedent must typically hire an attorney unless there are very specific factors at play. If and estate can be administered outside of probate, some legal fees can often be reduced.
- Other costs: In addition to legal fees, there are also court costs.
- Time: Probate can take a significant amount of time, depending on the complexity of your estate. Even the simplest probate administration processes usually take about six to eight months. During this time, your beneficiaries must wait on the court system. But, you should know that the most important delays occur in estates with or without probates. They include dealing with tax authorities, determining and paying creditors and addressing any disputes raised by beneficiaries, which can be an issue with or without probate.
- Lack of privacy: Getting the legal system involved in the probate process means everything that happens becomes public record except for confidential information such as the nature and value of the assets in the estate, which are sealed against public view in Florida. If you would prefer more privacy related to your estate, you should explore alternatives to probate.
Proper estate planning gives you a great deal of flexibility when it comes to probate. For further guidance, contact an experienced Tampa estate planning attorney with BaumannKangas Estate Law.