Probate is a court-supervised procedure intended to wind up the affairs of a deceased person, pay creditors (if any) and eventually administer and distribute assets of the deceased person. There are many horror stories related to probate and therefore probate often gets a bad reputation, both in Utah and elsewhere. However, the reality is that a great many, if not most, probates in Utah are administered relatively smoothly and without incident. The potential difficulty, on the other hand, is that there are no guarantees with a probate and these can be quite unpredictable, as with any other court proceeding. One of the most misunderstood aspects of probate is that it is a public court proceeding.
This public nature of probate, by itself, is one of the major reasons why some people choose to avoid the same. It is also true that choosing the route of probate can also result in significant professional fees and long delays, but again, much of the time this is not the case. Therefore, when you are considering your estate planning options, you should consider the cost and time aspect, but you might want to focus more on the public nature of probate and the fact that through this process other individuals (attorney, judge, accountant, personal representative, etc.) will be involved with your personal matters, in a public forum, and will therefore be making decisions and taking actions on your behalf. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but again, many people elect to avoid the probate process all together, for various reasons, including the factors noted above.
How can you avoid probate? That is an excellent question! Please contact us to learn more.