Probate is the legal process of administering and settling an individual’s estate after their death. It entails taking inventory of the estate, paying outstanding debts and distributing assets to their respective beneficiaries as the will stipulates.
Unfortunately, probate is not always a smooth process. It can be rife with complications that can cause stress and frustration for those involved.
The potential issues that may arise during probate
Disagreements or conflict among the parties involved is one of the most significant issues that can arise during probate. For instance, the beneficiaries may be dissatisfied with the executor’s administration and handling of the estate leading to costly legal battles and delays in the probate process.
There is also the possibility of a will contest that can invalidate the will. When this happens, the estate will be distributed according to state laws rather than your wishes.
Another risk associated with probate is a rogue executor, where the person you trusted with administering your estate puts their interests before the estate and the beneficiaries. As a result, your heirs could lose their inheritance.
Finally, probate can be expensive, especially if your estate is sizable. Estate taxes can take a huge chunk of your assets that would have otherwise gone to your loved ones.
Explore your options
You may not be around when things go south during probate, but your loved ones will, and they will have to deal with the situation. Fortunately, you can utilize various estate planning tools to avoid probate. They include:
- Establishing a trust
- Create payable-on-death accounts
- Holding ownership of property jointly
- Gifting away property when you are alive
That said, you cannot afford any loose ends or loopholes. It is prudent to seek informed guidance when making your estate plans to better understand your options and ensure you make decisions that will protect your loved ones’ interests when you are gone.