The term probate seems to strike a note of dread in most people. They view it as some horrific event that they must endure before receiving the inheritance a loved one left behind.
The probate procedure is a complicated process, but it is generally unworthy of its terrible reputation. Without probate, the final wishes expressed by your deceased loved one may go unfulfilled, or an undeserving party may get something from the estate that they do not deserve.
What are the most widely believed probate myths?
Many heirs to an estate think that probate occurs when a lawyer reads the will aloud in the presence of all beneficiaries. Essentially, probate in Pennsylvania means paying any debts the deceased left and then distributing leftover assets to heirs and beneficiaries.
Three other probate myths include:
- Probate takes many years: It typically only takes about a year for probate to end in Pennsylvania unless disputes over the estate arise.
- A will means no probate: Nearly all estates must go through the probate procedure, even when the deceased left behind a legal document detailing their wishes.
- Probate costs are prohibitive: The probate process does require several fees and expenses, but in most cases, these costs are manageable.
Instead of believing in myths or word-of-mouth, it is much better to find a source of facts about probate before or after your loved one dies. For example, many people find that speaking to someone with a background in law or finances improves their understanding of this critical procedure.
When you understand the probate process itself, you can rest easy knowing that your loved one’s final wishes are likely proceeding as planned.