Probate by the Numbers: Stats and Figures

Going through probate can be a long and complicated process, especially if the estate in question is particularly complex and involves many assets. An executor will be in charge of distributing assets, settling debts, paying taxes, and getting probate approved by the court, which can be quite expensive depending on the state. However, probate is something that many Americans have to deal with every day. Although the process can feel isolating, here are some statistics about probate to put it into perspective.

Wills and Trusts

Surprisingly, about 55% of people do not create a will to direct the handling of assets in their name. Of the remaining 45% that do, only around 10% prepare a trust. This is significant because trusts allow your estate to avoid probate by directly transferring assets to the person named in the trust in the event of the property owner’s death. For help creating a living trust, you can contact a trusted estate planning lawyer to take the first steps.

As demographics go, most people who decide to draft a last will and testament are older adults. Over 90% of wills drafted in the 1990s were made by people 60 or older, and the numbers have remained fairly steady over time. Additionally, minorities are slightly less likely to create wills, with 68% of African Americans and 74% of Hispanics not drafting wills. Many people simply do not know how to go about creating one, which is why it is essential to contact a Queens probate lawyer with any questions you may have about the process.

Probate Statistics

The time it takes to complete probate varies depending on the complexity of the will. A very complex estate can take as long as two years to probate, while even simple wills might take six months to go through the process. The reason it takes so much time is that most states have imposed minimum amounts of time for creditors to respond, usually several months.

In addition to being time-consuming, probate is also expensive. Recent estimates calculate that Americans spend roughly $2 billion on probate costs each year, with up to 75% of that cost going to attorney’s fees. With costs like this, it’s no wonder many property owners seek to avoid probate whenever possible through methods like trusts and joint ownership.

Living Wills

Rather than describing the distribution of property in the event of a death, a living will discusses the medical care a person wishes to receive should they become incapacitated. The number of Americans with living wills is rising steadily, with about 41% having one in place as of 2007. In addition, about 38% have healthcare power of attorney, authorizing them to make medical decisions on behalf of someone else who is unable to do so. Creating a living will is a fairly straightforward process that can be handled by a probate attorney, and many people choose to do so for their peace of mind and that of their loved ones.

For help creating a last will and testament, trust, or living will, call the offices of Queens probate lawyer Richard Cary Spivack for a consultation today.