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What are some common myths about probate?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Probate is the legal process through which the estate of a deceased person gets administered and distributed according to their will. It involves making sure the deceased person’s will is valid, identifying assets and inventorying them, settling their debts, paying taxes and distributing the remaining assets to their beneficiaries or heirs.

Probate is a term that often evokes confusion and anxiety among individuals dealing with the estate of a deceased loved one. The misconceptions and myths surrounding probate can make the process seem more daunting than it is.

Myth 1: Probate is lengthy and expensive

Probate does not necessarily drag on for years or cost a fortune. While it is true that probate can take some time to complete, especially for complex estates, many straightforward cases get resolved relatively quickly.

Myth 2: Everything goes through probate

Not all assets need to go through probate. Assets such as life insurance policies or retirement accounts typically pass directly to the named beneficiaries without needing to go through probate. Similarly, assets held in joint tenancy or those placed in a living trust can bypass the probate process altogether.

Myth 3: Probate is a public process

While probate proceedings are a matter of public record, this does not necessarily mean that every detail of the estate becomes public knowledge. Many documents filed during probate, such as inventories and accountings, can remain confidential unless specifically requested by interested parties.

Myth 4: Probate leads to family disputes

While disputes among family members can arise during probate, they are not an inevitable consequence of the process. Clear communication, transparency and proper estate planning can help minimize the likelihood of conflicts.

Although probate may seem daunting, understanding the realities behind these common myths can alleviate unnecessary stress and confusion. By dispelling misconceptions and seeking guidance when needed, individuals can navigate the probate process with greater ease and confidence.