Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies. It involves the administration of the deceased person’s estate, which includes their assets, debts and distribution of property to heirs or beneficiaries.
Probate often stands as an intimidating term, shrouded in myths that create unnecessary fear and confusion. Many of these myths are not true, and if you are in the midst of planning your estate, you should understand what is true and what is not true about probate.
Probate is a time-consuming process
According to the Tennessee Courts, there is no time limitation on the probate of wills. Contrary to popular belief, probate does not always translate to lengthy delays. While the duration varies, simple cases can conclude within a few months.
You can lose assets during probate
A prevailing myth suggests that the probate process leads to the loss of all assets. In reality, only assets solely owned by the deceased may enter probate. Jointly owned assets, assets with designated beneficiaries and those in living trusts often bypass probate, preserving them for rightful heirs.
Probate is always contentious
Probate does not inherently lead to family disputes. While emotions can run high during these times, many cases proceed amicably. Effective estate planning and clear communication can help prevent conflicts among beneficiaries.
Probate only benefits creditors
Another common misconception is that probate exists solely to settle debts with creditors. In reality, probate ensures a fair distribution of assets among beneficiaries. Creditors have a designated period to make claims, and the remaining assets are then distributed among heirs according to the will or state law.
While probate is a default process when someone passes away without a clear estate plan, it is not always inevitable. Strategic estate planning, such as creating living trusts or joint ownership arrangements, can help bypass probate, providing a smoother transition of assets to heirs.