The legal process of settling a deceased person’s estate, or probate as commonly known, can be fraught with unforeseen challenges that can catch families off guard. What may seem like a straightforward procedure for your loved ones can quickly become complex, legally and emotionally, which can take a toll on their well-being.
Therefore, it is imperative to recognize and prepare for these potential obstacles in advance if you are party to the probate process as a beneficiary or executor.
Wrangles among loved ones are common during probate, even among close-knit families. Money is an emotive issue; disagreements can arise when dividing assets and property. Sibling rivalries, contested wills, and disputes over the deceased’s intentions can lead to lengthy legal battles, emotional stress and fractured relationships.
Delays in concluding the process
Probate is a court process involving various legal procedures and court appearances, which can lead to delays. It can be frustrating for beneficiaries relying on the inheritance as they have to wait until everything is finalized to own the assets legally.
Discovery of hidden debt
It’s not uncommon for undisclosed debts, tax liabilities or outstanding financial obligations to surface during the process. Executors and beneficiaries may be surprised to find that the estate’s assets are not as substantial as initially believed, leading to complications in asset distribution.
The individuals or parties tasked with administering the estate during probate are legally obligated to carry out their duties diligently and in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. However, in some cases, executors may engage in misconduct, including misappropriation of assets, failing to fulfill their fiduciary duties or making decisions that are not in the estate’s best interests.
Understanding your estate planning options and what you can do to mitigate the risks associated with the probate process can be crucial for navigating these challenges effectively and protecting your interests.