Demystifying the Probate Process: 4 Myths Can Can Impact Probate

If you have lost a loved one, you may already feel intimidated by the probate process, which is the process by which a state court will validate a will. However, many people have a lot of questions about probate, and there are many myths that impact how people feel about this complex process. In fact, you may have concerns about losing a significant portion of your inheritance over probate.

The team at the Germany Law Firm is here to untangle the process for you. We understand that these common myths around the probate process can make an already-difficult process worse. Fortunately, our team is here to help make your probate process easier by providing the tools and information you need to take action.

A Will Means No Probate

Having a will may not result in completely avoiding probate but it will make the process a little easier. If you do not have a will, the probate process may take much longer, as the personal representative will need to gather further information to distribute your assets appropriately. This could take weeks, months or even years. This sometimes means that attorney fees on probate cases completely diminish estate funds that would otherwise be handed down to beneficiaries.

In order to make probate as seamless of a process as possible, it’s important to have the right estate planning documents in place, including a will and maybe even trusts. Without a will, you risk leaving your loved ones a long, costly probate process.

Probate May Take Less Time

While having a will does not mean you will automatically avoid probate, it can make the probate process easier. Your will is the guide map the probate court uses to make decisions about your estate. If you have a clear, well written will that follows estate law, you may find that probate takes less time with a proper will.

While you may still be facing probate, it can be much smoother, easier process. That also reduces the cost of probate, as your case would be less intensive. If you need help building an appropriate will, our team is here to help.

Personal Representatives Cannot Be Held Liable

The personal representative is the person responsible for ensuring the will is carried out. Typically, this is the person who is in charge of the will, both in filing for probate and for communicating properly with the beneficiaries. This is a vital part of the estate planning process, but as a beneficiary, you may not have received any correspondence from the personal representative.

However, it is a common myth that personal representatives cannot be held liable for issues with the estate. For example, if they fail to file for probate on time, they may say significant financial penalties that impact them specifically. Likewise, that can lead to tax consequences if they continue to fail to file.

It also means that they may be leaving themselves open to legal consequences from the beneficiaries. If you believe the personal representative is ignoring or refusing to correspond with you, you may have grounds to file a dispute against them. While your attorney may first try to settle this issue out of court, our team is not afraid to pursue answers in the courtroom if they continue to refuse.

Probate Only Applies to Large Estates

Large estates mean more assets and more complex debts. Intestate probate, or probate without a will can be complex and take months, if not years, to resolve. However, tools like trusts can help large estates mitigate long, drawn out probate processes, so who does probate apply to?

While there are limited cases where a small estate can avoid probate, probate applies to any estate that must be distributed amongst its beneficiaries. That means, even if your estate is relatively small, you may be surprised to find that your family will still have to probate your will following your death. Because of this, having a clear estate plan is vital.

Because probate affects more than just large estates, it benefits people of all income and socioeconomic statuses to build an estate plan. Even if your assets do not seem extensive, that plan can help ensure that your desires are being respected. It can also make the process much easier for your family, as that plan and estates without a will can take much longer to settle in probate court.

Probate Is Always Expensive

Probate is generally known as a time-consuming, expensive process. In many cases, this is the truth, but probate does not always have to be expensive. In fact, probate can be less costly depending on the specifics of your case.

How to Make Probate More Affordable

One of the easiest ways to make probate more affordable is to ensure your will is valid. Your will acts as a roadmap for the probate court to verify, validate, and distribute assets based on that will. If there are any issues with the will, it can slow the probate process down and leave the family paying more out of pocket for probate.

Reach Out to a Probate Attorney to Learn More about Probate Myths and Facts

If you are a family member trying to settle a loved one’s estate, this can be complex, confusing, and upsetting at a time where you just want to grieve.

At the Germany Law Firm, we are committed to making the probate process as easy on you as possible, from demystifying common probate myths to pursuing the fair estate payment you deserve in court. We understand that this is a complex process, and we are here to provide the tools to make it easier, starting with a consultation. When you are ready, reach out by calling or filling out our online contact form.

Contact us to schedule your initial consultation.