The primary incentive for creating a comprehensive estate plan for most people is the desire to decide who will receive their estate assets when they die instead of allowing the State of Missouri to distribute them according to the intestate succession laws. There are, however, a variety of additional reasons that make creating a well thought out estate plan a good idea. Decreasing your estate’s exposure to the probate process, for example, is something that can be accomplish with a well drafted estate plan. Why is it important to minimize your estate’s exposure to probate? One reason is the cost of probate, both in terms of time and money. “How much does probate cost,” you may be wondering. Because every estate is unique it is impossible to know ahead of time what the financial cost of probate will be; however, a better understanding of where the costs come from during the probate process may give you a better idea of what the probate of your estate will cost and provide you with additional incentive to include probate avoidance strategies in your estate plan.
Most estates are required to go through the probate process following the death of the estate owner. Probate serves many purposes, primary among them are locating and valuing estate assets, paying estate debts, paying taxes owed by the estate, and transferring estate assets to beneficiaries or heirs of the estate. Not all assets are probate assets, meaning the size of your estate does not necessarily determine how expensive probate will be. A large estate may spend very little time in probate if the majority of the estate assets are non-probate assets. Conversely, a relatively small estate may take considerable time and incur a large bill if all the estate assets are required to go through probate.
Some of the most common expenses an estate may incur during the probate process include:
- Filing fees
- Executor/Personal Representative fee
- Professional fees – estate planning attorney, certified public accountant, appraisers, real estate agent etc.
- Costs involved in advertising the sale of assets
- Fees or commissions incurred when selling estate assets
- Maintenance and repair costs for estate property
Though it is impossible to know what the costs will be for a particular estate, there are some factors you can count on having an impact on those costs. The more valuable the probate assets are the more costs will usually be involved in probating the estate. Real property also tends to be more expensive to maintain, repair, and sell than other types of property. Finally, a competent, experienced Executor who retains the services of an experienced estate planning attorney can dramatically reduce both the time and the cost of the probate of an estate.
If you have additional questions or concerns about the probate process, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.