Here’s a story that many of us are familiar with:
A widow dies with $100,000, one property, and no will. Her adult son and daughter simply want to go to the probate court and say “here are the assets, we are the only heirs. Can’t we agree to split everything between the two of us?”
Seems easy enough, right? Well, even with something as straight-forward sounding as this, there are a lot of complications that could arise in this type of situation.
Which child is going to be in charge?
Does their mom’s estate have any debts?
Do they plan to sell the property, or transfer it to one of the children?
Once you ask a few questions, probate can suddenly become messier than you anticipated! So now you’re probably wondering, what makes probate so complicated?
First, you have to work with the court. That means dealing with their timeline and schedule – and if they’ve got a lot of cases on their docket, that means yours could take even longer to resolve.
If you have a will, your estate STILL has to go through probate. Except now, the judge has a guide on what your wishes were. No will? This is what’s called “dying intestate,” and it’s up to the court to handle all decisions regarding your estate.
Second, families often fight during this process. Whoever is in charge may be on the receiving end of upset phone calls from siblings or other family members who don’t think that things are going their way. This can prolong the process, and it involves even more time in court.
If there are any challenges to the will, like someone thought they were going to get an inheritance but they actually are not, this can make probate even longer!
Third, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork! From the inventory to the creditor period to the distribution of assets, probate involves a lot of crunching numbers and submitting the right documents at the right time. One mis-filed item could really set you back, both with time and money.
Here are some things that have to go through probate:
- Any inheritance where the beneficiary predeceases the giver
- Non-titled property, like household or sentimental items
- Partner-owned property
- Sole ownership property
If you’re thinking right now “okay…so can I avoid all of these issues?” The answer is YES, with the right estate plan! Learn from our attorneys which documents can help you keep your estate out of probate.
Start the conversation with a free consultation.