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Probate is the court proceeding for the transfer your assets (after your death) to your heirs or beneficiaries. Probate is time consuming and expensive. If you have a properly drafted and funded Living Trust, Probate can often be avoided.

Whether or not you have a Will, if you leave real property and/or assets in excess of $150,000 that are not properly gifted (for example, bank accounts where you did not name a beneficiary), and if you do not have a properly drafted and funded Trust, a Probate will probably be required by law in order for your beneficiaries to take title to your property.

A typical Probate will take over a year from the date of filing to the date of distribution to your beneficiaries. Probate involves a series of steps that an experienced Probate Attorney will be able to perform for you, including: getting a Personal Representative appointed to act on behalf of your Probate estate, sending notices to creditors, obtaining appraisals of your assets, selling assets in order to pay costs or to divide the estate, negotiating and paying valid creditors claims and other estate expenses. Many of the steps require public hearings on dates set by the Court: depending upon each Court’s calendar, hearings can be set many months form the date of filing. When this is completed and the estate is ready to close, the Court must set a date for a hearing to approve an accounting. Only after the accounting is approved do your beneficiaries receive their inheritance.

In addition to the time factor, probates have other disadvantages, including their public nature, the costs (filing fees, publication, appraisals, bonds, as well as the Attorney’s and Personal Representative’s fees). Attorney’s and Personal Representative’s statutory probate fees for a $500,000 estate will run about $26,000. Additional fees could run higher if property is sold, or there are disputes with beneficiaries or people who claim money was owed to them.

At Asher Levin Law, we are experienced in Probate Administration. We will move your case through the Court as quickly as possible. However, even the quickest Probate Administration will take longer and cost more than a typical Trust Administration matter.

Administration of a Living Trust after the death of a Trustor could take less than 6 months. Bills still need to be paid, notices sent, accountings made, but the time frame may be shortened. Costs can be substantially less than a probate. Neither the terms of the Trust nor the distribution of the trust become a public record.