When you think of estate planning, most of the time the first thing that will come to mind is finding methods that will help keep your estate out of probate. It’s true that in many cases this is the best for the family and the estate, but in some cases probate might actually be beneficial.
For most small to medium estates, probate can easily be avoided and is also unnecessary in many cases, but with larger estates there may be some benefit to letting the estate go through probate. The main benefit that an estate receives from probate is that it will be under court supervision so there must be an accurate account of the debts and assets in the estate.
When someone passes away, creditors have the right to put a claim against the estate for whatever amount that the deceased owned, but it is also not too uncommon for creditors to put bogus claims against an estate. If the estate is in probate, each creditor will have to provide proof that the debt is legitimate before they will be awarded payment of that debt. Another advantage is that creditors will only have a certain amount of time to submit a claim against the estate; if they fail to do so, they cannot come back later to collect on the debt.
With large estates that have a lot of debts and assets, as well as family members that may not be in complete agreement about how the estate should be settled, probate can actually be a good thing.
Of course, there are some disadvantages to probate, which is why many people try to avoid it. The main disadvantage being that your will and your assets will become a matter of public record that anyone can review. If you prefer privacy for your heirs, you will certainly want to avoid probate. Additional problems that tend to come with probate are the amount of time that it takes to probate an estate, and the expense. It can take months, and even years, to settle an estate through probate, especially if someone is contesting the contents of your will.
Before you decide how you would like to put together your estate plan, it is best to contact an attorney experienced in this area of law to find out what your options are and what makes most sense for your situation.