When an estate goes through the probate process, it is an attempt to determine that a testator's will is valid. It may also attempt to locate any beneficiaries or other interested parties if the decedent died without a will. An executor is named by the court who will oversee the distribution of assets either in accordance with the will or with the state's intestacy law.
There are two main disadvantages of going through probate. First, it may take several months or years to complete depending on the size and scope of an estate. Second, probate is open to the public, which means that there is no privacy for the family of the decedent. However, there are some options for those who want to avoid probate as much as possible.
In some cases, it may be advisable to create a joint tenancy.It is common for ownership of an asset to be divided between two people, with the survivor being granted sole ownership when the other person passes. Making a beneficiary designation on an insurance policy or any other asset that allows for one enables that asset to pass directly to the beneficiary without the need for probate. Assets placed in a living trust are taken out of the estate and pass to beneficiaries without the need for probate.
Those who are interested in avoiding probate may want to meet with an estate planning attorney to see what other options they may have. Avoiding the probate process often means that beneficiaries receive their distributions in a far more timely manner and in most cases with less expenses being incurred by the estate.