What can potentially go wrong during probate?

On Behalf of | Nov 20, 2023 | Estate Administration |

Probate, the legal process of administering a dead person’s estate, can be a complex undertaking. While it usually leads to a fair distribution of assets, there are potential pitfalls that can arise.

Understanding these pitfalls is important for those navigating the probate process.

Disagreements among heirs

One common challenge during probate is the emergence of disputes among heirs. The absence of a clear and updated will can lead to disagreements over the distribution of assets.

Heirs may have conflicting interpretations of the deceased’s intentions. This leads to long legal battles that can strain family relationships and use up the estate’s resources.

Creditor claims

Creditors have a stake in the probate process as well. An executor needs to deal with the unpaid debts of the deceased during probate, and if not handled properly, creditors may file claims against the estate.

Although personal debt usually peaks between ages 40 to 49, anyone at any age can owe large amounts of money. These claims can potentially deplete the estate’s assets, leaving less for the beneficiaries.

Large estate taxes

Another potential hurdle is estate taxes. Depending on the size of the estate and the applicable tax laws, a significant portion of the assets may be subject to taxation. Navigating tax regulations can be challenging, and failure to do so may result in financial setbacks for the beneficiaries.

Poor record-keeping

Accurate and detailed record-keeping is important during the probate process. Bad documentation can lead to confusion, delays and potential errors in asset distribution.

Property valuation issues

Valuing the deceased person’s assets can be a frustrating issue. Determining the fair market value of properties, investments and other assets requires careful consideration. Disagreements in valuation may lead to arguments among heirs and potentially draw the attention of taxing authorities.

While probate may not seem too exhausting at first, potential issues can complicate matters for those involved and lead to stress. Taking proactive measures to ensure a fair distribution of the estate’s assets is a huge part of this process.

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