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Reasons to Avoid Probate

Probate is the process of administering the estate of a deceased person, which means making filings with the court, paying creditors, and transferring property to the heirs or beneficiaries (the people named in the Will or under state law if someone dies without a Will).

There are three basic steps to the process of probating a Will in North Carolina: (1) Find the assets, take control of them, and report their value to the Clerk of Court.  (2) Settle the deceased person’s debts, and (3) Distribute property to the right people and close the estate.  There’s a lot more to it, but that is the gist of administering an estate for an executor or administrator.

Why might you want to avoid the probate process?

1. It takes quite a while.  It can take between 3 months (which would be very fast) and multiple years to probate an estate.  There are complications, rules, and deadlines for each step of the process, which is why many folks hire a probate attorney for assistance.

2. It can be expensive.  Some estates are incredibly disorganized, there are family squabbles, and there are sometimes complications that make the process take a while and cost a lot.

3. The estate is public record.   Some folks appreciate their privacy, and finding out the entirety of a deceased person’s assets and who is inheriting them is a simple matter of going to the local courthouse.

4. It can cause family discord.  Contesting wills, stealing money, fighting about who gets the fur coat – all of these are common occurrences in any estate.  The distribution of assets becomes a case of airing every ancient family grievance.

Through proper estate planning, one can typically avoid long and complex probate, or perhaps avoid it altogether.  If you need help with estate planning in Raleigh, Durham, Morrisville, or the surrounding areas, you can contact the estate planning attorneys at Hopler & Wilms, LLP for a free consultation. 

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