Top 5 Probate Myths

Myth #1.  Probate is Always A Nightmare

While probate definitely can be a nightmare (as it was for Dave’s family), it doesn’t have to be.  When probate is handled effectively and efficiently, the process can move relatively quickly and predictably for everyone involved.

Myth #2.  Probate is Purgatory for Property

This one is tricky: during the probate process, which is court-supervised, there are certainly restrictions on the sale and transfer of real estate.  However, depending on the level of authority we have obtained for the administrator or executor (full authority vs. limited authority), the administrator or executor may actually be able to sell, transfer, or even refinance, the real estate without the need for prior court approval.

Myth #3.  Probate Takes Forever to Complete

Let’s be honest: probate is not going to be a fast process.  We’re talking 7-12 months for probates that move smoothly.  But the nightmare stories of probates lasting years, and even decades, are thankfully few and far between (unfortunately, Dave’s family was one of those stories).  And we’ve certainly taken over our fair share of probates that have been sitting open for years (or a decade in two of our cases), so it does happen, just not as often as you may think.

Myth #4.  Wills Avoid Probate

This is one of the most common myths out there.  While a Will is great for capturing your intent, it unfortunately will not avoid probate.  That’s why so many legal, financial, and tax professionals and advisors recommend forming a Living Trust: it’s a well-established legal vehicle that will allow your family to avoid probate and settle your estate relatively quickly and smoothly when you’re not around.  Read more here.

Myth #5.  If I Die Without a Trust, There’s No Way to Avoid Probate

This is the flipside of #4 above.  And thankfully, it’s also a myth.  There are a number of circumstances that don’t require probate, even without a trust.  For example, real estate owned in joint tenancy with right of survivorship.  Or jointly owned bank accounts.  Or bank accounts, retirement accounts, or life insurance policies with designated beneficiaries.  So probate is not inevitable, as long as the right steps have been taken beforehand.

SuccessionLegal® is your trusted guide for Probate & Living Trusts. Only you know how you feel, and we respect that, because we’ve been there.


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