What You Shouldn’t Believe About Probate

Estate Planning Lawyer

After a person dies, his or her estate likely has to go through probate according to our friends at Carpenter & Lewis PLLC. During this process, a will is proved valid in court. The process has a long reputation of being a drawn out and tedious ordeal. If you are the executor of an estate, you may be dreading going through the process. However, it’s important to understand that there are many misunderstandings about probate.

Here are some common misconceptions about probate.

It Always Takes Years to Probate an Estate

This is one of the most common misconceptions about probate. Many people dread beginning probate because they assume it will take years to complete. The truth is that in most cases, it does not take longer than a year to probate an estate. However, there are certain factors that can slow down the process. For example, very large estates often take longer to probate. These estates may owe federal or state taxes, which can slow things down considerably.

Family fights can also slow down the probate process. Sometimes relatives may think that they’re not getting their fair share and decide to challenge the will in court. They may even hire their own attorney.

Probate Costs A lot of Money

Some people are worried about how much probate will cost. They may have heard horror stories about families not getting anything after attorney fees and court costs are paid. The good news is that this is not true. In most cases, probate costs are less than 5 % of the value of the estate. Even after all the fees are paid, you and your family should still receive a fair amount.

A Living Trust Is the Only Way to Avoid Probate

It’s a common misconception that a living trust is the only way to skip the probate process. Although establishing a living trust may help you avoid probate, it isn’t the only way. Other ways to avoid probate include establishing joint ownership or property, giving away property before you die and naming beneficiaries on retirement and bank accounts.

Any Attorney Can Assist with Probate

Probate is a complicated legal process, so not just an attorney can handle the task. If you hire your tax attorney or the first attorney you find on a Google search, you may not get desirable results. It is important to work with an attorney who has specific experience with probate. He or she should have extensive knowledge of the probate laws in your state so that mistakes can be avoided.

If There Is a Will, Probate Isn’t Needed

A will is one of the most common estate planning documents and states the decedent’s wishes and names the beneficiaries of that person’s assets. However, a will does not allow an estate to bypass probate. During probate, the will has to be proven valid in court. Debts and taxes also must be paid before assets are distributed to beneficiaries.

If you need assistance with probate, you may want to contact a probate attorney today.