Despite its foundation in the estate administration process, probate is widely misunderstood. In fact, many people have preconceived notions about the probate process that may not accurately reflect the situation.
There are a few common misconceptions that continue to affect estate planning and administration decisions.
Myth 1: probate is expensive
In the past, the probate process could drag on for years, racking up legal fees. However, recent innovations have streamlined probate to make it faster and more affordable. With careful planning, probate can be relatively inexpensive.
Myth 2: probate is lengthy
In the past, probate could take several years to complete. But today, with electronic filing and other innovations, many probate cases wrap up in less than a year. Statistics show that estates valued at $500,000 or less typically complete probate within 14 months. As you can see, the probate process does take some time, but it is typically not the lengthy ordeal it used to be. With competent legal help, probate can move along briskly.
Myth 3: you should avoid probate at all costs
Some advise trying to avoid probate altogether through trusts or joint accounts. Unfortunately, certain assets, such as individually owned real estate, must go through probate. And keeping everything out of probate can be problematic, as those assets will not be subject to probate’s creditor claim process. The optimal approach is to use probate for assets that require it while minimizing its use for other assets. But completely avoiding probate is generally impractical.
In summary, innovations have made probate faster, less costly and more streamlined than in the past. While the process does take some time, it is typically not exorbitantly expensive or lengthy. By understanding how today’s probate really works, you can help dispel outdated misconceptions.