Disadvantages of the probate process?

The disadvantages of death probate proceedings include:

Loss of privacy: When your estate goes through probate, you lose all privacy.  Your will, your assets, and your liabilities all become public record just like any other litigation at the courthouse. We have represented estates where unrelated parties have submitted false claims against a probate estate and use the probate record to target heirs and beneficiaries, hoping that the false claim would be paid. An estate cannot be closed with an unsatisfied claim.

Will contest: Wills can always be contested and put aside-it happens all the time. When a will is contested, the estate is frozen and the assets cannot be transferred to loved ones. It is easy for any disgruntled heir to file a will contest since the will is already in probate court. In most cases the will contest can be filed without an attorney and for very little cost.

Costs: The court charges the estate a fee relative to the size of the estate. In addition, attorneys, executors, guardians, and any other fiduciaries acting within the realm of probate (or administration) charge their own fees. The total cost of probate can easily range from 3 to 10 percent of the gross estate-or more. For example, if a person dies owning a house that has a fair market value of $300,000 and other assets amounting to $100,000, the value of the gross estate is $400,000. A conservative estimate of the probate costs would be 5 percent of that gross amount, or $20,000. If the house was mortgaged for $200,000, the value of the net estate is $200,000. Thus, the probate costs would actually amount to 10 percent of the net estate! Recently our office assisted in a probate process where the total estate was $1.1 million and consisted of two major assets. The total costs were over $16,000.

Multiple probates: There must be a probate proceeding in every state in which the decedent owned real property.

Delays: Probate can last from several months to several years. This only adds to the frustrations and anxieties of a grieving spouse and family.

Lack of Mobility: In our highly mobile society, it is often necessary to have your will reviewed by a lawyer in the state of your new residence to be sure your will complies with and takes advantage of local laws. Usually, a move will necessitate a complete revision of your will.

Probate has been defined as “the lawsuit you bring against yourself with your own money to benefit your creditors.” This description is quite accurate, but people usually come to appreciate its veracity only after undergoing the probate of a family member.