Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Cost of Probate

Of the many reasons you want to avoid probate, one of the biggest is the cost. I've written on avoiding probate in the past, but haven't addressed cost directly. Probate is the process by which the court oversees the distribution of your property to your heirs. Your heirs will have to visit the probate court if you have died without proper planning. There are several forms of probate in Nevada depending on the value of the estate. Most probates are of the summary (between $100K and $200K) and regular administration (greater than $200K) variety. Probate attorneys charge by the hour to work on these matters and their fees range from $250 to $400 per hour and above. From the initial petition to the final discharge, the process on average can take anywhere from 8 to 12 billable hours. That's if the process goes smoothly, however. If there's disputes among the family about the administrator, who is entitled to what, or any conflicts with creditors, then the time and expense will only grow.

In the end you're looking at a cost from about $2500 to $5000. Now of course, YOU are not looking at that cost, you're long gone. And that is the attitude I receive occasionally when it comes to engaging in the proper planning to avoid probate. The truth is, though, the cost of probate will come from the estate itself. Did you really leave behind cash, maybe putting aside a little bit extra your heirs, only to see it further depleted to pay a probate attorney? Additionally, you are leaving behind what is sure to be a headache to your heirs and preventing them from enjoying the assets you've left behind for at least a few months.

Probate can be avoided by planning your estate during your life. Moreover, estate planning will cost a fraction of what probate costs. In addition, planning your estate will not only avoid probate, but allow you to be prepared if you are ever incapacitated during your life, keep your estate private, and allow you to make post-death decisions regarding how your assets will be distributed.

I do both probate and estate planning and while I'm more than happy to be serve as your estate's probate attorney, I'd much rather see you for your will and trust.

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