Common Errors During The Probate Process
Probate is a process that causes fear in many people. It is often a long and costly process that can result in many arguments among family members. In fact, probate often leads to disputes and litigation.
There’s a good reason for that. Many people do not have a will, trust, or other estate plan in place. In fact, 55% of Americans die without an estate plan. Nearly 72% do not have an updated will. One-third of seniors have not discussed their end-of-life plans with their family members.
There’s an assumption that only the wealthy have estate plans. However, it doesn’t appear that a lack of money is the issue. Only 15% of Americans who earn more than $150,000 a year have an updated will. The main excuse seems to be that people just didn’t get around to it.
This is sad, since many probate issues can be prevented with clear communication. Many people are uncomfortable discussing death with loved ones, but having these discussions can make things easier after death when it comes time to divide assets. After all, many family members make errors during the probate process. Here are some of the most common mistakes.
Not Properly Interpreting the Will
Wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents often contain legal jargon that may be hard to decipher. If you don’t know the intent of the will, then a beneficiary could lose out on assets. Things can become even more complicated if a beneficiary dies or if there are multiple amendments to the will. When in doubt, seek help from an estate planning lawyer.
Not Accounting for all Debts
While it may be a challenge to track down all a deceased person’s creditors, the executor needs to make a solid effort to do so. Even after assets have been distributed, a creditor could pursue beneficiaries and order them to pay for the outstanding debts. A creditor and beneficiary could both take legal action against the executor.
Not Keeping Accurate Records
Being an executor is a tough job. You need to be extremely organized and this means keeping track of everything you do. If you pay taxes or dole out assets to beneficiaries, make sure you take note so you’re not forgetting to do important things.
Not Communicating Regularly
When you stop communicating with beneficiaries, they can start getting nervous or even suspicious. This can turn into disagreements, disputes, and even litigation. That’s why you should take the time to keep beneficiaries informed on what is happening during the process. This will save drama and heartache and make the process go more smoothly.
Seek Legal Help
Dealing with the probate process can be complicated for family members. In many cases, there is no clear direction as to how assets should be divided and this can lead to arguments and frustration.
You need a knowledgeable and experienced legal team on your side. Fort Lauderdale probate litigation lawyer Edward J. Jennings, P.A. can advise you during this difficult time. Schedule a consultation today by calling 954-764-4330 or filling out the online form.