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Why probate can be an issue for heirs

On Behalf of | Oct 2, 2023 | Estate Planning |

When a testator passes away, their will is submitted to probate court. The probate court judge should review and authenticate the will. Once it’s clear the will is valid, the executor of the estate is then responsible for the distribution of assets.

However, probate can cause several issues for heirs. Here’s what you should know:

Potential issues with probate

The distribution of an estate isn’t instant. The executor is responsible for a lot more than asset distribution. They need to locate assets, collect death certificates, contact banks and creditors, pay taxes and contact heirs. It can take several months to over a year for an executor to complete their duties. As a result, heirs may not see any assets until probate is done.

Probates can have fees. An estate may be charged a percentage of its value to pay for the opening of an administration, providing letters testamentary and closing an estate. The estate may also be charged by a personal representative. The personal representative may also seek reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses. 

A will could also be contested. Someone could contest a will if they believe there was undue influence that led to the decisions of inheritance. A will could have also been written under duress, which could lead to a dispute. The probate process could take longer as a result.

What are your options to avoid probate? 

Many people realize the flaws of probate. People who wish to avoid probate have several options. For example, there may be no probate if the testator had no assets in their estate. One way this can be done is by making a trust or having assets co-owned.

Before an estate plan is made, testators may need to learn about their legal options. The more a testator knows about the intricacies of estate planning, the easier they may make the distribution process for their heirs.