A recent study found that over 58% of Americans don’t have a will in place. Having a will not only protect you, but it also helps your family after your passing. The last thing you want to do is add to the stress your family has after your death. Without a will, your estate will go into probate.
If you are dealing with the death of a loved one who did not have a will, preparing for the probate process is imperative. Seeking out the advice and guidance of a lawyer who has experience with probate cases is crucial. Below are some common misconceptions about the probate process and the truth behind them.
If a person does not have a will, it is the job of the state where the estate is to assign an executor. Some people think that the oldest child the deceased person has will automatically be named the executor. While this is true in some cases, it depends on the will a person has in place and the state where the probate process is taking place.
When a person lays out an executor in their will, other members of the family can challenge this. If the person named as the executor has a disability that prohibits them from fulfilling their duties, the judge in the case may recuse them of this job. The main thing you need to do if you are confused about the details of a loved one’s will or the probate process, in general, is to work with a lawyer.
Another misconception people have about wills and the probate process is that the state seizes control of an estate if a person has no will in place. In reality, the spouse and children of a deceased person are the first in line to inherit the assets in their estates. Some states divide the assets in a person’s estate equally among their family.
However, if the estate cannot find a deceased person’s relatives, they will assume control of the estate. A lawyer will know the details of the laws in your state that dictate what happens to a person’s estate if they have no will in place.
The laws that dictate how long the probate process can last vary from state to state. On average, this period is anywhere from three to twelve months. This means you will not have to worry about dealing with the headaches of probate for multiple years. There are issues that can prolong the probate process, like the size of the estate or disagreements among family members about how assets are distributed.
If you are headed for probate and need some legal guidance, contact the Hedtke Law Group. We also can assist you in the estate planning process.