Avoiding Probate

by M-Gillies

You can avoid probate by executing a living trust.

There has been much talk about probate court and how it should be avoided as much as possible, but it isn’t always clear as to why. In a nutshell, there are two big problems with probate. One is the length of time it takes to organize and manage the assets and properties of the deceased which can often take months and sometimes a year. The second reason is after attorney and court fees are paid, the expenses can prove expensive. You could see up to 5% of an estate’s value being paid out to cover the costs.

While most of what happens during the probate process is clerical work, it rarely requires legal research, drafting or a lawyer’s adversarial skills. Even still, probate is often used to clear up contesting parties and conflicts, however, this is seldom the case.

During the probate process, the probate attorney or the attorney’s secretary fills in forms and keeps track of filing deadlines and other procedural technicalities, and for their service, the court, the lawyer and the executor are entitled to fees from your estate. However, it is common for the executor to waive the fee, especially if the executor inherits a substantial amount of the property.

For attorney’s fees, the court approves what is considered a reasonable percentage of the estate subject to probate. So if the estate earns a gross value of $400,000, a probate attorney’s fees can easily amount to $20,000 or more.

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