Having only a Will is almost as bad as not planning at all. The only difference is that the Judge has a Last Will to guide the Judge in making the who gets what, when, how, and how much decisions.
A probate has over 100 steps and checkpoints. Depending on how a Will is written, it may reduce that some, but probate still takes a lot of time and money. A Will can give the Executor a lot of power to do things without asking the Judge, or it may give the Executor no power at all and leave every decision to a Judge. The typical Will I’ve seen doesn’t give the Executor much power to do things without asking the Judge for permission.
Probate makes personal affairs public. Many probates require that an inventory of the estate is published in the public record. Many probates require that an official accounting be published too.
Probate can take 8 months to years to finish. A year is typical.
The legal fees for Probate in Arkansas are established by law. The strange thing is the statute also says “,or by other contractual arrangement.” This means the attorney can really charge whatever they want if you agree to it.
Many attorneys won’t touch a probate for less than $4,000.
The statute also says the attorney gets to charge based on the GROSS value of the estate, not the net value. So, if your house is appraised at $200,000 the attorney gets to charge based on $200,000 even if there is a $175,000 mortgage. This means the percentage lost to attorney fees can be quite high when calculated on the NET value of the estate. In the case of the $200,000 house, the percentage of the NET is 24%.
And the more people involved the more expensive it usually gets because of the amount mail and communication required.
If you forget to disinherit anybody you wanted left out, they can come back and claim their share. If you forget to mention or disinherit a child, then they are entitled to a share.