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Should Your Estate Go Through Probate? Why or Why Not?
Last time we cleared up confusion around probate in South Carolina and looked at what probate is and isn’t.
If there’s one thing people do know about probate, it’s that they want to avoid it when the time comes. But is that really the best advice for everyone? Let’s look at the common reasons why people work to avoid probate, and why it may not be worth the effort to avoid probate after all.
Avoiding The Cost Of Probate
By avoiding probate, you avoid the associated costs. In South Carolina, the cost of probate as of 2017 is:
$1,845 for the first $1,000,000
$2,500 for every $1,000,000 thereafter
For an estate worth $2 million, for example, the total cost of probate would be $4,345, while an estate worth $10 million would have a fee of $24,345. Many people choose to avoid probate to skip paying these fees.
What to consider: Keep in mind that it can be costly to set up an estate plan that keeps assets out of probate in the first place. For smaller estates, it may not be worth it.
When a will is filed with the probate court, it becomes a public document. In contrast, the details of an estate handled through a trust do not become public.
What to consider: Most people do not need to worry about this. Public figures facing curiosity and business owners wanting to keep company financial info private may have a valid reason for concern, but for most people this is a non-issue.
Making Disbursements To The Heirs More Quickly
Making sure heirs get their inheritances more quickly is another reason people choose to avoid probate. Theoretically, the trustee of a living trust can begin disbursements to heirs immediately upon death. In practice, trustees will ensure that the estate’s debts and taxes are paid before disbursing money to heirs. Whether this actually means beneficiaries get their money more quickly depends on the situation.
What to consider: Estates passing outside probate are subject to creditors’ claims for three years compared to just eight months given to creditors through the probate process. This increases the chance that a creditor will make a claim after disbursements have been paid out from the trust, which can lead to lawsuits against the trustee and/or beneficiaries. The shortened time creditors have to make a claim is an advantage of going through probate.
Is Your Estate Set Up To Pass Through Probate or Avoid Probate?
Estate planning is complex. Laws change and family situations change, making old estate plans obsolete or imprudent. It’s difficult to know the long-reaching consequences of estate planning unless you speak with an experienced estate planning attorney like Gem McDowell of the Law Office of Gem McDowell. He and his associate Lauren don’t just provide wills and trusts, but the insight and advice from years of experience on the real-world consequences of estate plans. Call Gem and Lauren today at their Mount Pleasant office at (843) 284-1021 or use this contact form to set up a consultation.