Probate court nightmare stories

For many people, probate is to be avoided at all costs. And, unfortunately, there are many probate nightmare stories that support this.  What are some of the reasons that the probate process can become so unpleasant?

First, many people have not adequately prepared for their death, and therefore, their affairs are difficult to manage once they’ve died. These types of cases can last for years and administering the assets of the estate is very hard because there are no documents or records that are easily accessible for the estate’s personal representative.

Family problems that lead to disputes between heirs of an estate must be resolved by probate court which can not only add to the timeline for a probate case, but can also result in conflicts between family members that can have lasting effects.

A worst-case scenario involves greed on the part of an heir or even a personal representative who ends up stealing from the probate estate. Not only are these criminal actions, but they can, once again, have lasting effects on the family of the decedent.

Probate nightmares can also occur when people try to handle the process on their own or choose an attorney who isn’t qualified.

It doesn’t end “happily ever after”

These probate court stories and others like them illustrate what a nightmare it can be to go through the probate process.  In addition to the problems that can arise during the process, probate can be time-consuming and costly. While the costs vary from state to state, in general, the court takes a fee that’s a percentage of the estate to pay probate fees. These expenses could be used by the heirs instead of giving them to the state.

The standard timeline for a probate case is:

  1. After the initial information has been collected, the attorney representing the estate will need to prepare the probate petition, the order for hearing, and notice of hearing
  2. Once this is done, the judge or clerk will enter the order to set a hearing on that petition. This can take anywhere from 10 days to a month.
  3. A personal representative will be appointed by the court. He or she will begin working on an inventory of the estate, give notice to any creditors, review any claims against the estate, etc. This can take up to 2 months.
  4. Next, the representative will pay bills or sell any property, if necessary, and will then provide the court with a final accounting and petition to distribute the remaining assets. This can take anywhere from 4-5 weeks.

Generally speaking, if a probate is uncontested or no unusual issues arise, the process can take 5-6 months.

Avoiding probate

The best way to avoid probate court nightmares is to create a living trust.  A living trust allows you to manage and distribute your assets and property efficiently without having probate court interference.

At The Law Office of David W. Foley, living trust attorneys, we specialize in creating living trusts as part of your estate plan. Our transparent fees for living trusts are straightforward and are based upon the size and complexity of your estate.

Call to schedule a consultation today.