Common Misconceptions about Wills and Probate

Common Misconceptions about Wills and Probate

When dealing with probate, it can be difficult to decipher myth from fact. As an executor this may be your first time dealing with the probate process, which means that you may be completely unfamiliar with what information is trustworthy and what information is flat-out lies. This is why we have compiled a list of common myths surrounding probate that could adversely affect the ease of the probate process if not handled properly. 

Don’t Start the Process by Assuming Probate is ‘Bad’

Although the mention of probate is enough to make anyone cringe, it is important to remember that the probate process is in place to serve an important purpose. If your loved one passes without a will or estate plan, the probate courts allow for the assets to be distributed to the heirs. Without the probate court system, there would not be a way to ensure the fair distribution of your loved one’s assets. The process of probate may not be ‘fun’ but it is not as merciless as many have come to believe. 

Probate is Not a Road You Must Take Alone

It should also be mentioned that there are plenty of trained professional who are available for hire in the Inland Empire & High Desert  if you need help. There are attorneys to take care of the legal aspects of the estate and guide you through any court documents as needed. Fiduciaries can serve the role of executor if you are unable to. Let’s be honest; not everyone has the time to dedicate the months or possibly years of work it takes to settle their loved one’s estate. Finally, once the Letters of Administration letters have been received, the sale of your loved one’s real property can be handled by a real estate agent or broker. If the process begins to overwhelm you, keep in mind that you can hire one of the aforementioned professionals to do the job for you.

 

Having a Will Does Not Avoid Probate

Because there are often multiple assets to an estate, having a will does not allow for the heirs to bypass the probate court system. Without a Trust or beneficiary designation distributing each asset, the courts must oversee the process. Although this may be frustrating, it is in place for a good reason; it is to ensure that the estate is equally divided among all the heirs.

 

A Will is Not Absolute

Many people assume that their will cannot be contested or changed after their death. However, many occasions can allow for the challenging of a will. For example, if there are not enough witnesses to sign the will or the witnesses are heirs to the estate, then the will may not be valid. Another situation that would constitute an invalid will would be the existence of a more recent will. Typically, an older will is voided or destroyed when a new one is drafted but occasionally there are discrepancies around which will trumps the other. There is no guarantee that any will is going to be followed word for word. To help diminish the amount of challenges to a will, it is important to make sure that it allows for reasonable compensation to all eligible parties.

 

There Is an Enforced Time Limit

Letters of Administration expire after 18 months. Once the letters have expired, it is unlikely that assets to the estate can be recovered. This is why it is important to raise concern about any issues surrounding the estate within the proper time frame. If you wish to contest a will, you should first obtain legal representation to make sure all the T’s are crossed, and the I’s are dotted. Contesting a will is difficult but, without proper legal representation, it is virtually impossible. 

To conclude, you should always double-check the facts that you hear or read with your lawyer, fiduciary, or agent. If you are in need of help with your probate property, please don’t hesitate to call me, Charlotte Volsch at (760) 912-8905. I look forward to guiding you through the facts and fiction surrounding the probate process.