Probate is an area of estate planning that is widely misunderstood. Many myths abound in this area of the law, and you should know how to separate fact from fiction.
Have a look at these three common myths about probate and see if you know the truth. When it comes to your estate planning, make sure you have the right information so you can make informed decisions.
1: Probate is always costly and time-consuming
Although the probate process does include expenses, you should not see it as universally expensive and time-consuming. The specifics of a probate process depend on the circumstances surrounding the person who died and her or his estate plan, if any, completed prior to death. A qualified attorney can guide families through the probate process in an efficient way that minimizes costs and the length of time as much as possible.
2: Without a will, all assets go to the state in the probate process
It’s a mistake to assume that the state automatically takes possession of a deceased person’s assets if that person did not leave a will. The truth is that when a person leaves no will behind before dying, then state law governs the division of any assets left behind. Many states assign assets to immediate family members. This is what the probate process is for: the court process to determine how to divide and distribute assets. It is not a process in which the state automatically claims a deceased person’s assets.
3: I can go through the probate process without a lawyer
Some think that they can go through the probate process on their own, without enlisting the help of a probate attorney. The truth, however, is that the probate process requires a lawyer in all but a few rare exceptions. While each state has its own laws governing the process, generally speaking, you will need a probate attorney to help you move through the process.
Although there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding probate and estate planning, you can make the best decisions for you and your family by gathering the facts. A well-crafted estate plan can help your family avoid probate and allow you to keep control over how you assign and distribute your assets.