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By: Scott Grossman on August 15th, 2017

Understanding the Potential Pitfalls of the Probate Process

During a probate administration, there are many potential pitfalls attributed to the process itself that every executor should be familiar with. By understanding what to expect, you are more likely to minimize the hassle involved with this process. Most people, however, have little or no experience in this area. If you were asked to administer a loved one’s estate, you are entitled to seek legal assistance to help you learn more about the probate process. Here are a few examples of three drawbacks of the probate process that can impact your role as an executor.

3 Potential Pitfalls of the Probate Process:

  1. Probate is often expensive. The reality is, probate administration comes with many expenses.  These expenses may include attorney fees, court fees, accountant fees, and other costs. In addition, if there are disputes that arise among the parties involved in the estate, the expenses can increase dramatically. An executor of the estate must act diligently and efficiently to avoid accruing unnecessary expenses on the estates’ behalf.
  2. Probate can tie up the assets in the estate for an extended period of time. Even with no major issues during probate, it can take up to a year for assets to be available. When disputes or other issues arise, this length of time can increase substantially. Assets can sometimes be inaccessible for many years. This can be harmful to the beneficiaries of these assets. For example, if a married couple who has lost one of the spouses, is going through probate, the survivor may not be able to access the assets. Once the will is validated by the court and an executor is appointed, the assets become accessible to the surviving spouse. In the meantime, however, bills continue to come due. Again, this makes it very important for the executor to fulfill all of the required tasks before the asset distribution. The quicker the executor can distribute the assets, the less time they will hold up the probate process.
  3. Probate often raises various privacy concerns. The reason for this is that the probate file becomes a public record. Anyone going through probate administration could have access to a will or trust. While there may not be anything that an executor can do to make a probate file private, it is still important to be aware of this drawback. If the administration documents contain anything potentially controversial, the executor should prepare himself or herself accordingly. By preparing yourself, it leaves little room for surprises that could hold up the probate process or result in greater expenses. For example, if the will heavily favors one beneficiary and leaves another friend or loved one out entirely, it is important to anticipate a potential dispute and consult with your legal team about how best to prepare.

If you are ready to start your case, then please give us a call or fill out our Get Help Now form. Or, if you would still like some more information, check out our comprehensive overview of California Probate Litigation, available on our website.