What are the disadvantages of probate?

The disadvantages of probating a will are many. The probate process is expensive, time consuming, and intrusive. Court costs, attorney fees, personal representative fees, bonds, and accounting fees all add up. The cost of probate is often between 3% and 8% of the gross value of an estate (up to eight thousand dollars for a hundred thousand dollar estate). If your estate is probated without a will, the costs of probate may be even greater. The probate process is a notoriously protracted legal procedure. Studies in one state reveal that the median time for settlement is thirteen months. If the probate proceedings are contested, the ensuing legal battle can take several years.

Probate proceedings also intrude on a family’s privacy. Probate proceedings take place in open court where the family’s private financial records are made a public record. The family is forced to reveal for public inspection a listing of all of the family’s savings, investments, and real estate. Also, now that many probate courts are making their records available on -line, anyone with a computer can easily access your family’s probate records.

The estate is vulnerable to attack during probate proceedings from unhappy relatives and to suits from creditors who must receive certain legal notices. It is not unheard of for someone to file a claim in a probate proceeding simply as a way of forcing the estate to settle the claim in order to avoid an expensive legal fight.