Our Blog

Problems with Probate

Many people have heard they should avoid probate, but few understand what probate is and how the process works. What...

Many people have heard they should avoid probate, but few understand what probate is and how the process works.

What is Probate?

problems with probate blog gretchen stangier certified financial planner portland oregon

Probate is the legal process that wraps up a person’s legal and financial affairs after their death. During the probate process a person’s property is identified, cataloged, and appraised. In addition, probate makes certain any outstanding debts and taxes are paid. It can be a complex process, filled with very specific legal requirements.

For example, if someone dies without a valid will, the probate court sees the deceased person’s assets are distributed according to the laws of the state.

If someone dies with a valid will, the probate court is charged with ensuring the deceased person’s assets are distributed according to their wishes.

Probate Process

Probate can take a long time – anywhere from a few months to more than a year. If there is a will, and one or more of the heirs chooses to contest the documents the process can take a lot longer.¹

Probate can be expensive. Even though probate costs are capped in some states, they may reach between 3% and 7% of the estate’s value. That’s calculated on the gross value of the estate before taxes, debts, and other expenses are paid. And if probate process is challenged, the legal costs can rise.²

Finally, probate takes place in a public court. That makes everything a matter of public record; there is no privacy. Anyone who wants to, can find out exactly what was left behind and how much a deceased person’s heirs received, and can review the court records for the deceased person’s estate.

Those who have concerns for their heirs’ privacy may want to take steps to manage the probate process.

Every estate passes through probate following the person’s death. Probate can be a public process that discusses all your assets, or it can be managed to include as little information as possible. When preparing your estate documents, consider how you want the courts to handle your personal finances after your passing.

Property That Avoids Probate

Some assets can be structured so they may not have to go through probate. Here’s a partial list:

  • Property held in a trust
  • Jointly held property (but not common property)
  • Death benefits from insurance policies (unless payable to the estate)
  • Property given away before you die
  • Assets in a pay-on-death account
  • Retirement accounts with a named beneficiary

¹′² Nolo.com, 2013

Copyright  2015 FMG Suite


DISCLOSURE: Investment advisory services are offered through Gretchen Stangier, Inc. DBA Stangier Wealth Management (“Stangier Wealth Management”), an investment advisor registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Stangier Wealth Management only offers investment advisory services where it is appropriately registered or exempt from registration and only after clients have entered into an investment advisory agreement confirming the terms of engagement and have been provided copies of the firm’s ADV Part 2A brochure and Part 3 documents.

DISCLAIMER: This website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a complete description of our investment services or performance. This website is in no way a solicitation or offer to sell securities or investment advisory services except, where applicable, in states where we are registered or where an exemption or exclusion from such registration exists. Information throughout this site, whether stock quotes, charts, articles, or any other statement or statements regarding market or other financial information, is obtained from sources which we, and our suppliers believe reliable, but we do not warrant or guarantee the timeliness or accuracy of this information. Nothing on this website should be interpreted to state or imply that past results are an indication of future performance. THERE ARE NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, AS TO ACCURACY, COMPLETENESS, OR RESULTS OBTAINED FROM ANY INFORMATION POSTED ON THIS OR ANY ‘LINKED’ WEBSITE.

You may also like

Eating the Estate Planning Elephant… One Bite at a Time, Part I

No one wants to look at it, no one even wants to think about it, yet there it looms —…

Eating the Estate Planning Elephant… One Bite at a Time, Part II

You may have been cohabitating with your proverbial estate planning elephant for some time now, but if the first part…

Considerations When Choosing Your Executor

While no one would likely characterize drafting a will as an exciting task, it certainly is an essential one. After…