You may have been hearing many bad things about probate. Estate planning advocates seem to spend an awful lot of time trying to keep you out of it. However, should Georgia residents really worry about it? On the other hand, should they incorporate it in your estate planning?
What is probate?
When you die, probate determines who now legally owns your property. If you were smart and left a will, probate is just a matter of filing it and having a meeting of everyone with an interest. You’ve seen these meetings countless times in movies.
If you put off estate planning and didn’t leave behind even a simple will, probate courts must now decide how to divide your property among prospective heirs, generally by the applicable state law of intestacy.
Clearly, there are quite a few benefits to probate. For starters, it creates an orderly setting that allows everyone with an interest in an estate to speak up. Moreover, it protects your assets from falling into the hands of someone who might’ve manipulated you to change your will. Finally, for creditors, probate is a chance to apply for repayment of debts.
Why did probate get a bad rep?
Probate isn’t cheap. There are plenty of attorneys and other professionals who assist with the proceedings. Each one charges a fee. Besides that, probate is the vehicle for dealing with inheritance taxes and federal as well as state taxes. In addition, the process is public and can often take a long time to complete.
People who put off their estate planning may cost their heirs a lot of money. If you’ve been thinking about making a will, consider discussing your situation with an experienced attorney.