Probate: Expensive - Complex - Long - Often Unnecessary
Ralph Nader (himself a lawyer) called probate "the screwing of the average corpse."
After you have read the facts presented on this page and watched Attorney Jeffrey Marsocci's video, be sure to read Suze Orman's article, Why you need a revocable living trust, by clicking its link located near the bottom of this page.
One of the most widely held misunderstandings about Revocable Living Trusts arises from statements that they are of value to only the very wealthy. That is a blatant misrepresentation. It is true that a properly structured trust may eliminate or substantially reduce federal estate taxes for married couples worth more than $5 million, a concern for less than one-half of one pecent of Americans. For the remaining 99.5% of us, the main reason to get a Revocable Living Trust is to avoid PROBATE, an expensive, time-consuming, and agonizing process that currently costs Americans around $25 BILLION a year.
What does probate really cost? Typically, probate fees are 4%-10% of your gross estate (the entire estate including liabilities). It is typical for estates to total $200k, 400k, 600k, and considerably more, especially if there is real-estate involved. Based on typical total probate fees of 4%-10%, probate costs amount to $8-$20k, $16k-$40k, $24k-$60k, and considerably more, respectively. The cost of a properly prepared Revocable Living Trust pales in comparison to such costs and simply makes good financial sense. The RLT circumvents probate's headaches, paperwork, delays, and publicity. There are also additional important features of a properly designed Revocable Living Trust.
I never cease to be amazed whenever intelligent people express their belief that the making of a Will (Last Will and Testament), or having been designated as an heir in someone's written Will, means that the estate of the deceased won't require probate. The truth is precisely the opposite. Probate is a legal process referred to by our lawyer friends as "proving the Will" to the satisfaction of a court. It is required if the pertinent assets (left with or without a Will) exceed a relatively low dollar amount.
Does it make sense to work and save and plan and to then use a Will (Last Will and Testament) that requires one's heirs and, particularly, one's appointed Executor (Personal Representative), to go through the agonizing probate process and have a sizeable chunk of your family's assets siphoned off in the process?
There are attorneys, regardless of their exemplary ethics and other fine legal work who, when requested to draft a Revocable Living Trust, sometimes provide trusts that don't contain 222 must-have provisions. In addition, persons frequently wind up living with trusts that are not properly funded. Both problems can eventually land an estate into probate, precisely the situation the trust's grantors/trustees sought to avoid.
Whether you presently have a trust or not, take a few minutes to watch the below video made by Jeffrey Marsocci, an estate planning attorney. Jeff is the author of several books on life and estate planning including The Anti-Probate Revolution. If you live in North Carolina and contact him you will have the opportunity to get trust documents of outstanding quality for your family.
If you live in Florida and have done your own homework, call me at 941-545-3600. I will help you locate a Florida attorney able to provide your family with advice and with Florida trust documents of outstanding quality that are valid throughout the country.
If you live in a state other than Florida and contact me I may be able to give you names of attorneys in your own city or state who provide Revocable Living Trusts, IRA Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, and other specific trusts of outstanding quality.
A MUST READ: Suze Orman on Revocable Living Trusts