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What Is the Cost of Probate?

If you or a loved one dies in Indiana or Kentucky without a will, then your estate will go through probate.  You may ask yourself, “what is the cost of probate?”  The answer to that depends on the particulars of your assets and liabilities and your unique situation.  However, probate usually costs more and takes longer than the disposition of someone’s possessions when they have an estate plan.

You may think that only rich people need estate plans, but that’s not true.  Creating an estate plan is an orderly, planned, proactive way of deciding how your assets will be distributed after you pass away.  Sometimes when a person fails to create a will or estate plan and things go through probate, there can be disagreements and hurt feelings among surviving family members.  One of the greatest gifts you can give loved ones is an estate plan that alleviates these worries.

A probate law attorney at Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law in New Albany, IN, can answer your questions about the cost of probate and help explain additional benefits of an estate plan.  To find out more about how CLLB can help, call us for a free initial consultation at 812-725-8224.

How much does probate cost compared to an estate plan?

Considering the costs of probate versus creating an estate plan is like comparing apples to oranges.  The costs of probate can include missed opportunities and time delays, in addition to court and administrative fees.  Yes, creating a will or estate plan can cost attorney’s fees up front, but what you’re buying is control over your assets after death and peace of mind.

Some hidden costs of probate can include hiring an estate auction company to sell household goods and assets in the absence of a will.  This takes time and costs money, leaving fewer assets available to heirs.  Also, disputes among family members over a vague or nonexistent will can result in litigation, which costs money due to legal and court fees.  Creating an estate plan can often be the most cost-effective way to handle these matters.

What exactly is probate?

Probate refers to the way an estate is administered and processed through the legal system. The average time to complete probate in Indiana and in Kentucky is six to twelve months, though it can take longer if the estate is very large, or the estate continues to earn large amounts of income, or if there is a court challenge over the will.

Wills are sometimes challenged by unhappy family members or creditors who dispute the validity or intent and clarity of a will.  These court challenges can be laborious and expensive, so it’s important to have a will written by a skilled and experienced attorney so it is clear and legally binding.

Only assets solely owned by the decedent are subject to probate. Common examples include personal property, cash and real estate. The probate estate does not include payable-on-death bank accounts, retirement accounts and life insurance proceeds with beneficiaries, securities and vehicles named in transfer-on-death forms.

A person who dies without a will is said to die “intestate,” and this means his estate will go through probate.

How to Avoid Probate with a Living Trust

With a will or without one, if you own any property in your own name, probate will be required.  The way to avoid this is by changing the way you own your property through a living trust.  You will still have complete control over your own assets, though you will not own the property in your own name in a living trust.  Rather, the living trust owns the property, and you own the living trust.  It may sound complicated, but our attorneys are adept at creating these and can make it easy for you. 

You are the trust beneficiary, so you control the assets in it.  You can buy, sell, derive income from and give away anything in the trust, and you can change or revoke it.  You have complete control.  When you die, your trustee – whom you choose – will distribute your assets according to your wishes, thereby avoiding probate.

What are attorney’s fees for probate?

Fees will vary from law firm to law firm, depending on the size and complexity of an estate and the level of service you receive.  The probate attorneys at CLLB are highly skilled and experienced, and their fees are reasonable.  We pride ourselves on providing top-notch client service with prudent and fiscally responsible goals in mind.  CLLB has been offering decades of legal experience along with friendly, personal service in Kentucky and Indiana, and we have guided many people through the probate process efficiently and effectively.

What is the cost of probate in Indiana and Kentucky?

Some of the costs of probate in Indiana and Kentucky are emotional costs.  For example, if a person dies without a will, their belongings will be distributed based on state intestate distribution statutes – not based on the person’s wishes.  This means family heirlooms, jewelry, photographs, and belongings with sentimental value may go to people that the decedent never intended them to.  Even if these items were verbally promised to various loved ones, such promises carry no weight in the probate legal proceedings process.  That’s why it’s so important to have these directions written down in a legal document.

Disputes and arguments can arise when people bicker over assets, causing inter-generational rifts within families that take years to heal.  Sometimes disinherited relatives wind up receiving assets that the deceased person intended for others.  All of this can be avoided by creating a will and estate plan in Indiana or Kentucky while you’re still in good health and have the time to do it.

People often put off creating a will because they think they’ll do it in the future when they have more time.  This is especially true of young people who believe that establishing a will is something you do in old age.  This kind of thinking is a mistake and can create heartache later on.  It is much better to be proactive, create an estate plan and then have time to talk to family members and explain why you’ve made the decisions you have.  You can explain to each person what they can expect to inherit.  That way, there are no surprises, and it gives family members the chance to ask you questions and thank you.

Contact a probate attorney at CLLB today

If you or a loved one is grappling with probate issues in Kentucky or Indiana and don’t know where to turn, an experienced and friendly attorney at CLLB would be glad to answer your questions and offer guidance.  If you’re interested in proactively creating a will and estate plan that will take care of your family after you’re gone, we can help with that, too.  Whether your estate and assets are large or modest, we can work with you to achieve the outcome you desire.  We can look for ways to save on taxes and avoid probate and court fees, and we can help ensure that your wishes are carried out.  To find out more about how we can help, call us for a free initial consultation at 812-725-8224.

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