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Dispelling misconceptions about probate 

Posted on August 10, 2022

Probate is a formal process for administering a deceased person’s estate after death and distributing their assets to the intended beneficiaries. People usually want to avoid probate to make the process of distributing assets more straightforward, effortless, and cheaper. 

Unfortunately, there are numerous misconceptions and myths surrounding the probate administration process. It is vital to dispel those misconceptions about probate to understand what this process entails and how you can protect your legacy and loved ones before it is too late. 

At TdD Attorneys at Law, our probate attorneys have extensive knowledge and experience in helping clients navigate the complexities of probate proceedings in the state of Missouri. From our offices in Creve Coeur and St. Louis, Missouri, we provide clients with comprehensive guidance every step of the way. 

What Is Probate? 

Probate is a legal proceeding through which the court authenticates a deceased person’s will and oversees the distribution of assets. During probate, estates are administered in a way that conforms with applicable probate laws. The court appoints a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate to handle probate administration.  

The probate process is conducted through the legal system, which means most probate documents are public records. Typically, the laws surrounding probate in Missouri are complicated, which is why you may need to seek guidance from an experienced probate attorney to help you throughout the process. 

Creating a comprehensive and well-drafted estate plan is essential for saving your loved ones from unnecessary stress, cost, and time. However, there are many misconceptions about probate that may make the estate planning process more confusing and difficult. 

Common Misconceptions About Probate 

Since estate planning and probate are complex processes, there are many misconceptions and myths that surround them. Dispelling those misconceptions and myths can help you get a better understanding of your rights and legal options and ensure that you create an estate plan that accounts for your unique circumstances. Below are some of the most common misconceptions about probate: 

  • “Your estate will not go through probate if you leave behind a will.” No, writing a last will and testament is no guarantee that your estate will not have to go through probate when you pass away. In fact, one of the primary purposes of probate is to authenticate the deceased person’s will and ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes. 

  • “The state will get your assets during the probate process.” Many people confuse the terms “probate” and “intestate succession.” Probate is a court-supervised legal proceeding during which your assets are distributed to the intended heirs. If you die without a will, your assets will pass to your heirs according to your state’s intestate succession law. Intestate succession laws vary from one state to another, which is why you may want to get legal counsel from a skilled attorney. Generally, intestate succession laws are designed to give a deceased person’s property to their relatives, not the state. 

  • “The probate process will take years to finalize.” Not always. While probate can take a long time to finalize, the length of the process depends on a number of factors. Some estates are settled within months, and others may take a few weeks to finalize. However, if the estate involves complex issues, it could take years to finalize. If you wonder what you can do to avoid or simplify the probate process for your loved ones, consider speaking with a probate attorney

  • “The cost of probate is so high that there will be nothing left in the estate for my loved ones.” While probate has a reputation for being extremely expensive, it is a common misconception that the probate process will take everything (or nearly everything) you own. While probate can be costly, it is not as expensive as you think. The cost of probate depends on many factors, including (but not limited to) the size of the estate, the number of assets, whether there are any disputes between beneficiaries, and others. 

  • “There is no need to hire an attorney when going through the probate process.” While it is true that you may be able to handle the probate process on your own, hiring a skilled attorney can be a wise decision for many reasons. Your attorney will manage all of the probate-related affairs on your behalf to shield you and the rest of your family from potential legal problems. 

Turn to Knowledgeable Legal Guidance 

If the probate process seems confusing, you may want to consider seeking knowledgeable legal guidance from a probate attorney. TdD Attorneys at Law work diligently with individuals and families to help them navigate the complexities of probate. Our knowledgeable probate attorneys provide unparalleled legal representation and qualified guidance to help clients simplify the probate process throughout the state of Missouri, including St. Louis, Creve Coeur, and Chesterfield. Reach out to our office for a case review.