Advantage #1 — Probate allows you the ability to close out creditors to the probate estate within a 90 day window. For comparison purposes, if an individual passes away and all of their assets are held in trusts in order to avoid probate, there is a two-year window for creditors to put in a claim on the assets to pay any outstanding debts of the deceased.
Advantage #2 — Probate may provide you with an opportunity to challenge the validity of a creditor’s claims in court. If you believe a creditor is wrongfully trying to collect on debts from the deceased, probate could afford you with the chance to prevent having to pay unnecessary debts out of the estate that you otherwise may have to accept at face value outside probate.
Advantage #3 — Unfortunately, all relevant family and friends may not agree over how an estate should be handled. There could be disagreements about whether or not the deceased individual was of sound mind when he or she made a decision in their will. Probate court offers an opportunity to settle disagreements over an estate among named and potential heirs. Estate issues are sensitive and can create lifelong rifts between loved ones, so sometimes it is better to allow a neutral judge to make the final decision when there is a dispute.
Disadvantage #1 — Probate generally takes a very long time to complete. In the State of Florida, it can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months to finalize, or perhaps even longer depending on the complexity of the estate. For those who want to quickly administer their loved one’s estate and move on, it may be advisable to avoid probate.
Disadvantage #2 — Probate can be a very expensive process. In Florida, you can expect probate to cost between 3-5% of the overall value of the estate up to $1 million. If the estate is worth more than $1 million, those percentages may decrease, but either way, you will likely be paying a large chunk of money to administer an estate through probate.
Disadvantage #3 — Since probate is handled in court, and court matters are public record, the details of one’s estate may become public knowledge if it enters into probate. Most of us do not want details about our lives and personal finances being made available to anyone who asks. Thus, the lack of privacy involved in probate can be a major drawback.