Probate involves the payment of numerous expenses, including the fees of the personal representative or administrator, fees of the attorney who represents the estate, the premium for a fidelity bond on behalf of the personal representative or administrator (if required), appraisal fees (if needed), court costs and other expenses. Additionally, if a beneficiary is dissatisfied with the will or the circumstances surrounding its execution, the estate will typically need to pay both the personal representative’s and the estate’s attorney for time involved in defending the will should a claim be made against the estate.
In many cases, the completion of probate takes a considerable period of time, frequently a year or more. A written inventory of the decedent’s estate must be filed with the court. The court may need to approve the sale of real property in the estate, which also involves submitting an appraisal to the court of the value of the property to be sold. Further, the court may need to approve both partial and final distributions of the estate, the payment of contested claims of creditors and the accounting filed by the personal representative or administrator. Essentially, because the court is involved in assuring that the personal representative or administrator performs properly, considerable time often passes before the estate can be closed and the beneficiaries can receive their full inheritance.
Since probate is a legal process occurring in a court, some of the filings and proceedings are open to public view. In some circumstances, any person can gain access to your probate file, thereby discovering the nature of your estate, its value and the names of your beneficiaries.
Probate is a legal process that is under the administrative control of a judge. Even if you designate you son or daughter as the personal representative of your estate, he or she will need to file reports with the court and may need a judge’s approval for certain actions.
Probate involves meeting with attorneys and participating in hearings that are set for the convenience of the court. Your personal representative may need to take time off work to attend these meetings and hearings. As noted above, it’s the court and not the family that sets the timeline for a probate case.