Probate generally has the reputation as something to be avoided, if possible. This reputation has come about for several reasons:
- Fees. Every stage of the probate process—from opening the estate, to filing an inventory, to filing accountings—comes with a fee, payable to the court. Taken individually, these fees are fairly nominal, but they can add up, particularly if the estate stays open for a long time.
- Filings. Some Personal Representatives must file required court documents according to a timetable. Sometimes the timetable is not compatible with the Personal Representative’s progress in administering the estate. These timing issues, combined with the number of required filings, and the sheer volume of documentation that must be provided, can make a Personal Representative feel like someone else is running the show.
- Privacy. Every aspect of the probate process is public, meaning that anyone who is so inclined could visit the local courthouse and take a look at a person’s will, inventory, accountings, and so on. This idea is disturbing to many people.
The requirements of the probate process often provide important procedural safeguards for the beneficiaries of estates. However, these requirements can sometimes seem to interfere with what would otherwise be a smooth estate administration.