A Florida lawyer who writes an advice column for a Treasure Coast newspaper wrote recently that people know that they want to avoid probate, but they are not sure why. He noted that probate likely doesn’t sound difficult at first, but that it can a time-consuming, expensive process that is best left to an attorney who understands the law and court procedures.
Just to be clear, probate is a court proceeding in which a judge declares a will valid and appoints an executor (also known as a personal representative) to carry out estate administration.
The Treasure Coast attorney adds that the Florida probate process “has many negative aspects that your family would surely want to avoid.” The most common complaint about probate is its cost.
Compensation for the personal representative can be up to 3 percent of the total estate value. Add court costs, an attorney fee and estate upkeep and the probate process can be expensive.
He adds that the simplest of probate administrations typically takes about 6 to 8 months. Complications of any sort add time to an already lengthy process. It can also be an emotionally arduous process that can require people with no legal training to become involved in a very public, complex legal process.
Everything filed in court is part of the public record, which means outsiders can look inside your family and finances.
Estate planning can help your family avoid probate, however. One effective tool to help families around the process is a Revocable Living Trust. Other estate-planning tools are available, but should be employed with caution by those unfamiliar with the law and potential downsides of probate-avoidance.
For those eager to spare their families the probate ordeal, it makes sense to sit down with an attorney experienced in crafting comprehensive estate plans that will protect you, your loved ones and your assets.