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Four Myths About Probate

Fri Apr 15, 2022 | Probate |

Probate is a legal process whereby an estate is administered under the supervision of a court, often with the assistance of a Boca Raton probate attorney. While probate has some disadvantages, avoiding probate shouldn’t be the primary focus of your estate planning strategy. Some of the most common myths about the probate process are simply not true in most cases. 

1. Probate Can Take a Very Long Time

One of the advantages of a trust is that there is no delay in administering the trust after the decedent passes away – the trustee can immediately begin distributing the assets of the trust to the beneficiaries. This is one of the primary advantages of creating a trust. However, many people, therefore, assume that going through the probate process can take a very long time before the estate can be administered. 

This is not necessarily the case. From start to finish, the entire probate process takes approximately six to nine months. The process can take significantly longer if there are disputes or if the personal representative is having difficulty navigating the process. A will drafted by an experienced estate planning lawyer can help avoid potential disputes and other delays, and working with a Boca Raton probate attorney will ensure that you get through the probate process as quickly as possible. 

We should note that small estates may qualify for summary administration, which is a streamlined version of the typical probate process. In general, summary administration is completed in one or two months. 

2. The Estate Must Hire an Attorney

The estate is not obligated to hire a lawyer in order to proceed with probate. The personal representative can file all of the necessary documents with the court and take whatever steps need to be taken without the assistance of a lawyer. 

That said, the probate process is somewhat technical, and mistakes can lead to delays. In addition, personal representatives often feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the process. They may be grieving, depending on how close they were to the deceased. A Boca Raton probate attorney can handle the difficult aspects of the probate process so that the family can move forward. 

3. Probate is Expensive

Probate can be expensive when disputes and other issues arise, but most estates proceed through the probate process relatively inexpensively. You may have to pay some filing costs, taxes, and attorney’s fees if you choose to hire a lawyer. However, these costs are typically paid from the assets of the estate rather than out of the beneficiaries’ pockets. 

One of the hidden expenses of the probate process arises when the personal representative neglects their duties. This can lead to assets losing value, unpaid taxes, and other assets that could be avoided by working with a Boca Raton probate attorney.  

4. You Only Need to Go to Probate if There is A Will

While probate often involves administering estates according to the terms of a will, don’t assume that you don’t need to go to probate if the decedent died without a will. The core purpose of the probate process is to give legal validity to the transfer of ownership of valuable assets, even when those assets are passing according to the laws of intestate succession. 

Contact a Boca Raton Probate Attorney at Ellis Law Group 

If you have questions about the probate process, we can provide you with the guidance you need. Call us at 561-910-7500 or contact us online to schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help.