Probate is a legal procedure that occurs after someone passes away. It primarily involves validating the will left behind, identifying the testator’s assets, settling their debts and distributing the remaining estate to the will beneficiaries.
Probate is not always straightforward. Several issues could leave the beneficiaries in emotional and financial turmoil. Below are some of the things that could go wrong.
1. Lengthy delays
Probate can drag on for a considerable period due to various factors. Court schedules, paperwork and disputes among heirs can prolong the process, tying up assets and causing financial strain for beneficiaries.
2. Costly expenses
Probate can be a costly legal process. Court expenses and probate fees are some of the costs that can sum up to a pretty figure, not to mention estate taxes that can significantly diminish the inheritance.
3. Executor misconduct
Sometimes, the appointed executor may deviate from their duties or breach their fiduciary duty owed to the estate and its beneficiaries. This misconduct can take various forms, from mismanagement of assets and conflict of interest to lack of communication and failure to follow court orders. All these can complicate the probate process and lead to various issues for everyone involved.
4. Complex legal procedures
Navigating probate laws and procedures can be complex. Executors or family members handling the process might find it overwhelming, potentially leading to costly errors. For instance, it may not be business as usual if an estate has complex assets or if part of it is located in a different jurisdiction.
5. Will contests
Not everyone may be pleased with the contents of the will, leading to disputes that can tear loved ones apart and present legal challenges. It could be due to claims that the will is invalid owing to undue influence, lack of capacity or improper planning. These contests can stall the probate process and escalate legal fees.
As a will beneficiary, reaching out for legal guidance during the probate process can help navigate these and other pitfalls while protecting your inheritance.