Probate is the process of going to court to ask a judge to implement a will. Unless you plan, a probate is necessary if you own real estate, or if you have non-real estate assets over $75,000.

Probate is a public proceeding, which takes an average of 12-18 months to complete. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, probate costs on average 2-3% of the value of an estate.* This is consumed with court costs and attorney fees.

During the probate process, a will can be contested or disputed, lengthening the probate process. Creditors can also make claims on the estate. These possibilities mean that less of your estate might actually make it to your heirs! However, with the right tools, probate is easy to avoid. Planning with tools like the Revocable Living Trust mean you get a pass on probate. Even better, administering a trust is a private process – not your neighbor’s business!

*Hachfeld, Bau, and Holcomb, 2011, University of Minnesota Extension

Learn more at an upcoming workshop near you.