What is Probate and Why is Everyone Trying to Avoid It?

Sarah Savasky
July 22, 2014

Probate is a word that gets thrown around a lot (mostly by attorneys) but many people are unsure of what it means or why it’s bad. I’ll try to make it interesting, but that’s not going to be easy, so I’ll try to at least make it short.

Probate is the name given to the court process of validating an individual’s will and overseeing the transfer of their assets to their beneficiaries at death.  The process typically takes between six months and two years. Probate attorneys and executors fees are statutory, meaning they are entitled to those fees. If both the attorney and the executor receive the maximum fee those numbers would double. The fees can also go higher if the estate is complicated.

4% on the first $15,000
3% on the next $ 85,000
2% on the next $900,000
1% on the next $9 million
0.5% on the next 15 million


When an individual dies and leaves an estate valued at $150,000 or greater, and those assets are not owned by a trust or in an account with named beneficiaries, the estate must go through the probate process. This is one of the benefits of having a trust.

A trust avoids probate if it is properly funded.

A trust is typically more expense than a will to create, but you can see how much money is saved at the individual’s death. That money is going to the family instead of the attorney.

So, that’s what probate is and that’s why everyone is trying to avoid it!

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