At Axis Law Group, we make it very clear your estate plan should avoid probate. However, some people have said they heard probate is “not so bad.”
Probate is a costly court process that is taken from your loved one’s inheritance. As of 2023, a “standard” probate where no one is fighting is costing anywhere from $9,000 – $15,000. Of course, this cost can vary depending on the size of the estate and other circumstances, but probate always costs something. Even if the typical amount does not seem like a lot of money to you, why waste your time and hard-earned money on court costs and attorney fees?
The probate process delays the administration of an estate. If your estate in Colorado must go through probate, the process rarely starts fast. While your family and friends are still dealing with the death of a loved one, your estate’s Personal Representative has to file paperwork with the court to open a probate, which leads to a waiting period while the court determines whether to officially appoint the Personal Representative. Depending on the county and how busy the court is (most courts are very busy), it typically takes somewhere between four to eight weeks before the Personal Representative is appointed. That means that your Personal Representative cannot get your house on the market, close your bank accounts, or act on your estate’s behalf for a month or more after you pass away.
Now, once your Personal Representative is officially appointed and has the authority to act, probate requires the Personal Representative to start a creditor period. This creditor period is four more months of time. That means four more months of your Personal Representative keeping funds in the estate account to ensure they have enough money to pay any bills or creditor claims before they can distribute everything to your beneficiaries.
Even if this timeline does not seem like a big deal to you, it does for your beneficiaries. Your Personal Representative has a fiduciary duty, or a legal obligation, to administer the estate before making distributions. Unfortunately, not all beneficiaries understand this process and it can turn ugly, fast. There is usually at least one beneficiary who is really itching to have their inheritance, and this can lead to them pestering the Personal Representative to distribute funds early. When they do not give in, it can cause contention between your loved ones.
Even if your plan avoids probate, administrative expenses need to be handled first, before making distributions to beneficiaries. However, when your estate avoids probate, you are avoiding that four-to-six-week appointment process and that four-month creditor period. When you have the proper estate plan, and one that avoids probate, your Personal Representative or Trustee has the immediate authority to act.
Act Now So Your Estate Avoids Probate!
Schedule an initial consultation with one of our experience estate planning attorneys to learn more about the probate process and how to make sure your estate avoids it!