Is Probate Expensive?
It depends on the size of the estate. By law, probate costs must be “reasonable.” Smaller estates have smaller attorney fees, but because the estate is small, those fees may still be a significant percentage of the total worth. In addition to legal fees, the probate court assesses its own costs and fees against every estate that passes through it. Finally, there may be tax consequences for property that passes through probate.
What are Some Issues That May Arise in Probate Court?
One of the most common issues in probate occurs when an individual dies without a will. The probate court must appoint an individual to oversee the administration of the estate, and family members can disagree about who should be selected. Even with a will, heirs can fight about whether the will is valid, whether it has been superseded by subsequent wills, and about the value of property given to other beneficiaries. Another common issue arises when an individual dies and leaves behind a business that none of the other family members can run, and no one knows how to go about selling the business. Such a situation can often cause serious damage to the business as an asset, resulting in substantially reduced value to the estate.
Is an Attorney Necessary?
Many of the issues described above can be avoided by having an experienced attorney assist the family with estate planning well in advance of death. After death, an attorney who understands the probate system can help the family execute the final wishes of the deceased, conclude all of the final affairs, and move the estate quickly though the probate process.