WHAT IS PROBATE

Does My Estate Have to Go Through Probate?

We get a lot of questions about avoiding probate, but frequently clients don’t know exactly why they should be avoiding probate. Most clients would be best served by avoiding probate, even if they aren’t sure exactly why. As previously discussed, probate can be a costly, stressful, and long process. It can inflict an additional burden on your loved ones, who are likely still grieving. Don’t let your assets be wasted on litigation or probate fees when you can take care of many aspects of your estate now.

 

What is Probate?

Probate is the process the court uses to oversee the distribution and management of someone’s estate after death. This is when the court validates the decedent’s last will and testament, final expenses are paid, tax returns on the estate are finalized, and the decedent’s property is submitted to the proper beneficiaries. Depending on the size of the estate, the assets involved, the family dynamics, and many more variables, the process can take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete.

 

Why Do I Want To Avoid Probate?

Oftentimes, it seems like hiring a probate attorney and filing a probate proceeding seems daunting, making people want to put it off or avoid it altogether. It can be costly, take a lot of time, and place additional stress on the family in an already trying and emotional time. While probate cannot be avoided entirely, there are ways to reduce the number of assets that need to pass through an estate, which generally reduces the headache and the time it takes to get through the process. In Virginia, an estate requires probate if its value is $50,000 or more. In order to keep property out of an estate you must take steps to make sure assets transfer automatically to beneficiaries.