Why might you want to avoid probate? You may have heard someone tell you that you want a trust because it avoids probate and you may have stared at them with a blank expression because “why do I want to avoid probate?” “What does that even mean?”
I’m estate planning and probate attorney Sarah Siedentopf and I will tell you why you might want to avoid probate. Of course, if you’d like to give me a call about this, I would love to hear from you.
Why avoid probate? Probate is a legal process. It involves filing a petition and there are certain people that have to sign it. Depending on your family structure and ages there might have to be a Guardian ad Litem appointed, which is an attorney who represents some person who’s either too young or disabled who can’t represent themselves. You’ve got to get a bunch of the correct signatures. You’ve got to file it in the right place, with the right judge. Wade through a bunch of things. Then, the judge issues an order appointing you administrator or executor, and probably a few weeks have passed. Sometimes, even more than a few at this point. At that point the administrator or executor has to start gathering assets, has to file a notice in the newspaper — in a very specific newspaper — for four weeks for any creditors. Then, three months have to pass to give creditors time to give notice of any debts.
After everything is said and done, the quickest possible probate in Georgia is six months. From opening it to closing it, if you follow all of the statutes, that is the closest and quickest that can be done. So, you might want to avoid having to do all of these things when family members are grieving and when there is extra stress. Of course, you might want to avoid it because if you would like to hire an attorney to help guide you through it, that costs money.
So, the next time that somebody suggests a trust or some other thing and you wonder “why do I even want to avoid probate?” those would be the reasons. If you’d like to call me and talk about that, I’d love to hear from you. Also please feel free to comment. Thank you.