When Probate Can Get Costly

When Probate Can Get Costly

While probate is not an inherently expensive process, we have found three reasons why probate may become pricey.

1. If the beneficiaries and/or heirs contest anything along the way, the estate will spend more time and money defending its actions or responding to objections. This typically happens when someone contests a Will or the appointment of a person as executor. Beneficiaries could also contest the value of items included on the inventory and the payment of expenses, including any fee taken by the executor.

2. If the executor or administrator is not particularly trustworthy or does not abide by the formalities of the probate process, his or her actions (or inactions) could cause the estate to suffer additional expenses or drag on for an extended period.

3. If the decedent left an ambiguous or inconsistent disposition of property in the Will. A poorly drafted Will, for example, could result in disputes over how assets are distributed . Additionally, the decedent may have made verbal promises to various relatives or friends that those relatives or friends seek to enforce after his or her passing.

In any event, most of the costs incurred in probate - for example fees for accountants, lawyers, and appraisers - result from tax issues that arise regardless of whether your assets avoid probate. These professional fees will result even if you use a living trust.

Another fee that cannot be avoided is the probate court's fee. In Connecticut, the probate courts are funded by the fees that they are required by law to levy on a decedent's taxable estate.

Note: People who use living trusts have taxable estates as well
and will have to pay a probate fee even though their assets pass outside of probate!

Not sure what to do? Call us today, we can counsel you on the advantages of either path in light of your personal situation.