After you pass away and you have a will (or no estate plan at all), your family has to go before a probate court to receive their inheritances. Even though a will can be an appropriate method to distribute your property to your loved ones, a will does not avoid probate. A will is basically a set of instructions to the court , who then administers your will and distributes your property.
While you may not be concerned about the possibility of going into probate, there are a few possible negative consequences that may make you want to avoid probate.
Three Reasons to Avoid Probate
1. It’s all public record
Almost everything in the probate process is public record. That includes the entire will, your heirs and the value of their inheritances. About the only information that gets redacted from the probate process is account number information and social security numbers. This means that your estate is completely open to public view, and because the probate process is public, if there are any family disagreements, they happen in a public forum. Many people prefer to keep their financial and family information private, and so a public process may not be desirable.
2. It can be expensive
Probate in Colorado is generally pretty cost-effective and cost is often not a major reason to avoid probate, as long as your papers are in order. However, if there are family disputes, a complicated estate, debts, or disorganized estate planning documents, the cost of probate can quickly become more than you had though, potentially costing thousands of dollars. Your estate pays for the cost of probate, which is costs that would have otherwise gone to your heirs.
3. It can take awhile
Again, probate in Colorado is time efficient. The process is very rarely less than three months, and can take years, depending on your situation. During probate, your heirs do not get access to your property, and they cannot get the financial help that you intended for them and that they might need. If you have property in more than one state, then you have to open probate in that state as well and subject to that state’s probate laws and processes.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid probate, whether it be the use of beneficiary designations or trusts. It is important for you to know all your options and what best matches with your family circumstance. Contact The Rains Law Firm or schedule a complimentary initial meeting to begin determining what is best for you.