Probate is simply the legal process of distributing your estate. If you have a Will, probate validates the document and gives your designated representative the time and authority to distribute your assets in accordance with your wishes. If there is no Will – referred to as dying “intestate” – the probate process assigns a representative and designates how your property will be divided in accordance with state law.
So, why does probate have such a negative reputation? There are two reasons:
The first is that probate can be time-consuming. The entire process is essentially an accounting of your estate, so your representative will need to locate and secure all your assets, and both creditors and potential heirs will be notified that the process is underway. If there are any outstanding claims against the estate, those will need to be validated and certain property may need to be appraised. Depending on the size of the estate, probate can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year.
Probate can also be extremely expensive. In addition to clearing any outstanding debts you may leave behind, there are also various fees to be paid – court costs for example, attorney’s fees, executor fees, and any appraisal expenses. For an estate that is unusually complex and/or takes longer to disperse, those costs can quickly add up.
The good news is that there are ways to reduce those costs and simplify the process, or even avoid probate altogether. That’s where we come in. At Spiegel Law, PLLC, our team understands the hardships you’re facing. Our office is here to help navigate the complex probate process when you and your family have experienced the loss of a loved one. Give us a call today.