The Probate Process And Your Estate Plan

When you are going through the estate planning process and are considering whether you should work with a lawyer or not, one thing that you may want to consider is whether you would be comfortable with your estate going public. In fact, many people do not realize when they are estate planning that once they pass away, their will may need to go through probate court, a process that will make the estate proceedings public. If you are not working with a lawyer, it can be difficult to determine how to avoid this (if that is what you want) and what your next steps to take might be. You can also speak with your lawyer about protecting your estate when you expect your assets to go through probate. 

Why does the probate process mean your assets will be in the public record? 

This is something that many people do not consider. They simply want their estate to go to the right people or they want their business passed down to the right person, not considering that if it goes through probate court it will end up as a public record. This is why it is so important to work with attorneys. If your financial information becomes public after you pass away, you may be placing an undue burden on your beneficiaries. 

  • Those who are prepared to challenge your will once it becomes public can cause the probate process to go even slower and can add cost to the budget by needing more time to defend the will. 
  • Charities may “come after” loved ones who are beneficiaries of your will in order to get donations. They may say that this would be most honoring to you. 
  • Friends or other family members may learn of beneficiaries to your will once it is in the public record and want to swindle your beneficiaries out of the assets you have given to them. 

These are just a few of the complications that can arise when an estate becomes public. You may wish to avoid this completely by not having your estate go through the probate process. When that is the case, it is extremely beneficial to speak with a lawyer while you are working on your estate plan to determine what the best move is for you. If you would like more information about the probate process and your estate plan, reach out to a local law firm today.