The main benefit of probate is to provide court supervision to ensure your property is accounted for and distributed as described in your will. With a written will safely stored and accessible to the executor, bank or lawyer, probate court can be a relatively trouble-free experience. The trouble arises when the will or estate plan is absent. This is called “dying intestate”. The rules of intestate succession are basically a default pecking order of who gets your assets. Everyone has a different family picture of who is important in his or her life so it is very important you write specific instructions in your will.
In addition, probate makes it difficult for unsecured creditors or others to claim any interest in your estate, once the creditors’ claim period expires. If you are a professional such as a doctor, accountant, or attorney, probate protects your estate from posthumous lawsuits that would be difficult to defend without your testimony.
- Have you written clear instructions in your will about the disbursement of your assets?
- What property do you own is not subject to the probate process? Can your survivors access that property to have the financial support they need if you die?
- Do you have the type of business that would benefit from protection from posthumous lawsuits?