If you’ve ever heard or any famous people dying in the news or have had a loved one close to you pass away you probably heard the term “probate” dished around a lot.
Probate is the court-supervised legal procedure that:
- Determines the validity of your will;
- Gathers and distributes your assets; and
- Provides a process for paying creditors and putting a time limit on claims against your estate.
Sounds pretty good right? Pretty easy?
Well, it can be a pain in the neck if you aren’t careful.
Why do people try to avoid probate?
There are two primary reasons people to try to avoid probate as much as they can.
First, it can get expensive. There are legal fees, time away from work, and guardianship fees. When you are paying people by the hour, they can add up fast (and, when you are paying people a percentage of the estate, which Washington State doesn’t do but some other places do, it can get very expensive).
Second, it can take a long time, which means it can take a long time for the beneficiaries of the estate to get what has been left to them. Probate in Washington State takes at least 4 months (that’s how long creditors have to submit a claim against the estate. Once that period of time is over then assets can begin to be distributed.
That’s it. Pretty simple when you break it down into English. In another post I’ll talk about the actual process of probate.
P.S. Do you have kids? Have you completed guardianship paperwork? Have you done it correctly? Click here to find out what happens if you don’t do anything: Are you okay with a judge choosing the guardians of your children?
P.P.S. Do you own a business? Do you have a plan so the business, and your family, can survive if something happens to you? If not, click here to learn how simple it is to protect your business and your family from tragedy: 5 Ways to Protect Your Business from Catastrophic Failure.
P.P.S. Do you have no kids and think you don’t need an estate plan? Single and think a will is only for married couples. You couldn’t be more wrong. Click here to learn more: 5 reasons estate planning is a must have even if you don’t have kids.
Christopher Small is a Kirkland estate planning attorney who helps people get rich and live forever. He is also the owner of CMS Law Firm LLC.