Probating an Estate – Avoid These Common Mistakes

Probating an estate can be complicated. Navigating the probate of estates can be intimidating, but with the right knowledge and guidance, it doesn’t have to be. Get insights and tips on filing paperwork, gathering necessary documents and avoiding common mistakes in this comprehensive guide to probate of estates. While avoiding probate is the goal, sometimes things happen. It is important to have somebody on your side during this process. We specialize in probate of estates, so give us a call to discuss your options.

Lack of Estate Planning prior to probating an estate

One of the most common mistakes made in probate is the lack of estate planning prior to death. Without an updated estate plan, a personal representative may have difficulty properly distributing assets among family members and other beneficiaries. Additionally, if there are any discrepancies with creditors or tax authorities, those claims must be entertained or paid before assets are distributed according to the original will. It is critical to update your estate plan every 5 years or whenever circumstances change in order to avoid these risks and issues.

Inadequate Preparation of Court Filings

Many people make the mistake of skipping necessary steps when filing paperwork with the applicable court. In order to properly administrate a probate, all necessary documents must be in order and include vital information such as correct names and addresses for executors and beneficiaries. Additionally, any executed wills or codicils must also be submitted along with appropriate fees. Improper preparation of these items can delay resolution of the estate or even result in it being rejected in some cases.

Common mistakes to avoid when probating estate

Failure to Identify and Notify All Beneficiaries

It is essential to identify and properly notify all beneficiaries when probating an estate, as even the omission of a single beneficiary may result in legal problems later on. Beneficiaries must be listed with the correct name and current address, as notification letters will be sent to confirm their stated interests in the estate. Otherwise, something as simple as a misspelled name can lead to costly court proceedings down the line.

Misunderstanding Taxes and Other Obligations due to the Estate

During the probate process, it is important to accurately identify and pay all taxes, fees, and other obligations owed by the estate. Depending on how complicated these matters are, they may require the services of a professional tax advisor or accountant. Furthermore, it is wise to remain aware of state and federal deadlines associated with such obligations, as failure to meet these could lead not only to fines but even possible criminal charges when probating an estate.

The executor of the estate is responsible for filing the applicable tax and other forms, as well as for remitting any obligations due. This can be an especially intricate process when more than one state is involved or when a decedent held property in multiple states. For those cases, expertise from a professional may be warranted to ensure all necessary procedures are followed correctly and efficiently. Doing this will help both the executor and beneficiaries avoid time-consuming mistakes that could leave them vulnerable to costly penalties down the road.

Neglecting Inventorying Assets and Debts Owed by the Estate

One of the most common mistakes made in probate is neglecting to inventory assets and debts. It is important that all assets and liabilities be identified, adequately described, and accurately valued. Without an accurate accounting of what belongs to the estate, it is difficult to properly administer the process – underestimating assets or liabilities could result in either inadequate recovery for creditors or unjustly enriching one or more heirs. Additionally, for estates with large amounts of money or property, professional appraisals may need to be conducted to ensure a proper assessment of value.

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