Why its probate so expensive?


Probate is generally
thought of as being an expensive and time consuming process.  The short answer is because probate requires
certain formalities and delays built into the court system. These are not
necessarily bad things, and on some occasions we will even go out of our way to
ensure that the estate, or at least a portion of it, passes through the probate
process, in order to trigger any creditor claims. However, as a general rule,
probate is seen by most as an annoyance and an unnecessary and frustrating delay.

The system is designed to ensure the integrity of our property title system,
and to make sure that creditors have an opportunity to be repaid before the
distribution of estate assets. These safeguards that protect creditors and
future purchasers of the decedent’s property, also necessarily require court
filings, court oversight, a public forum, public and private notifications, and
a certain time delays built into the system to ensure that all interested
parties have an opportunity to weigh in before the estate money is paid out to
heirs.  Additionally, where disputes
arise as to who should get what in an estate, the probate process provides the
exclusive forum for resolving those disputes.

 

However, in the vast
majority of cases, there are no disputes, there are no unpaid creditors, and
the probate system simply serves to delay the ultimate distribution of the
estate at a greater expense than would otherwise result. It is these
formalities, the requirement of filings, and the requirement for court
appearances and obtaining court orders, that results in the high cost of the
probate process, as compared to the simpler and more streamlined administration
of a trust. A typical estate costs between $2,500 and $5,000, assuming that
there are no unexpected disputes, such as disputes among heirs, or disputes
brought by creditors. Conversely, an estate that is administered through a
living trust generally cost significantly less to administer because of the
absence of the probate formalities and time delays. In all but the very simplest
of estates, the trust administration process is not without some expense, however,
it is always less expensive than the probate system. This is one of the primary
reasons that people choose to place their estates inside a revocable living
trusts as opposed to drafting wills that assure them of a probate
administration.

About Ronald Morton

Ronald Morton is a Certified Elder Law Attorney practicing in the areas of wills, trusts, estate planning, probate and estate administration, asset protection planning, Medicaid planning, and Veterans benefits law throughout Mississippi.