We often hear about a celebrity's estate wrapped up in a lengthy process, or about a recently deceased friend's family going through a mess in probate for months or even years. We've all heard the anecdotal tales about these horrors, but still, there is so much misinformation in society about probate and what exactly it is.
Simply put, probate is a legal process for settling debts and distributing assets after a person passes away. There are many myths and misconceptions about the probate process, 2 of the most common of which we will dispel here:
If the decedent had a will, his or her estate won’t have to go through probate.
While a will allows you to choose the executor of your estate, name a guardian for your minor children, and convey your wishes about who receives your assets after you pass away, it does not avoid probate. As a matter of fact, part of the probate process involves determining the validity of a will.
It’s best to name the oldest child as executor of the estate.
An executor is the individual who administers an estate during probate. You can name anyone of your choice as executor in your will. (If there is no will, the court has the authority to select a “personal representative” to administer the estate.) Although many people want their oldest child to serve as executor, doing so is not a requirement. In fact, it may not even be the wisest choice. Given the importance of the executor’s role and the numerous responsibilities involved in the probate process, you should put a great deal of thought into choosing your executor.
We can create a plan to help ensure your estate will not have to go through probate. If you are responsible for probating an estate, or think you will be soon, we can guide you through every stage of the process.