Regardless of whether someone has a will, their family will have to go through probate (but not for assets in a trust … and we’ll get to that ).

The purpose of probate is to change ownership of an asset from the name of the deceased to the name of the beneficiary. The will simply acts as a set of instructions to the probate judge, and only the judge can sign off on the changing of ownership of assets after someone has passed away.

Probate involves the court deciding who will manage the deceased person’s affairs now that they have passed, and who the beneficiaries will be. I am positive every strong lady does NOT want to leave such decisions in the hands of a stranger who knows nothing about them or their family.

Probate is also an expensive and time-consuming process. On average, it will take family members two to three times as long to probate their loved one’s estate than it would have taken for the deceased person to create an estate plan that ensures an avoidance of probate. On top of that, probate and court fees alone amounted to over $1.5 billion last year (that’s a lot of pocketbooks and shoes). And if a woman owns property in multiple states (e.g., a home in Boston, Massachusetts and a home in Jupiter, Florida), then her family will have to open a probate in each state, doubling the expense.

Most ladies want their children and loved ones to have immediate access to the property and/or money they leave to them. When family members are forced through the probate process, it will be over a year before they can enjoy their benefits. Often the probate process will take much longer depending on the statutory requirements of your state, and how efficient or should I say inefficient the probate courts are. Imagine passing away and knowing that your children can’t access the money you left them or, in some cases, even sell your house until more than a year has passed.

Lastly, not many people realize that probate is a very public process; once a probate case is opened, anyone can find out which assets were left to whom. This can not only cause a lot of turmoil within families, but also give people an opportunity to try to take advantage of the beneficiaries.