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Common Questions Regarding the Probate Process

What Are Some Common Misunderstandings That People Have About The Probate Process?

The biggest misunderstandings that people have revolve around what assets are required to go through probate and what assets pass in probate according to the will that a decedent left. The biggest common misconception surrounds the will. In probate, part of the probate process is to determine if the will is valid or not. In probate, if the will is determined to be valid, then certain assets pass according to the will.

The biggest misconception people have about probate is that every asset that a person has, once the will is admitted to probate, will pass according to the will. However, that is rarely the case because first of all, if assets are owned jointly with right of survivorship, regardless of what the will says, that asset is going to become solely owned by the other joint tenant. If there is a beneficiary designation on an asset, like on a life insurance policy of on IRA, whoever is named as the beneficiary, is going to receive that asset even if the will left assets to someone else.

Therefore, the common misconception is people do not understand that the only assets that actually go through probate and pass according to the will are assets that are in a deceased person’s sole name and that do not have a beneficiary designation on it.

Why Are People Usually Afraid Of Probate?

It is not that in most instances. Probate is the worst thing in the world. However, the two things about probate that almost universally happen is that number one, because of the time period that it takes to complete probate, there is a longer delay than desired in transferring the assets to the beneficiaries. Secondly, probate tends to be very expensive. Almost always, the heirs to an estate are going to expend more in terms of attorneys, executor’s fees, court costs and the like, than they would have to expend if probate did not have to take place.

Probate is also a public proceeding. Like any other court, the probate records are open to the public. For example, a full inventory of the decedent’s assets is filed with the court down to the account number and the value inside the account in probate. That is public information for anybody to see ranging from nosy neighbors to people who are considering filing a lawsuit against the decedent but need to determine whether there is enough there to make it worthwhile.

Is Probate Necessary Then For Those Situations?

With good planning, probate is never necessary. It is the answer to this question. Probate happens because a person has died with an asset solely on his or her name with no beneficiary designation on it. Therefore, it requires that person’s signature to transfer it. With proper planning, probate can be avoided in almost any type of situation.

Attorney Steve Spewak Answers Common Questions Regarding The Probate Process. Call the office of Estate Plan Strategies LLC for a FREE Initial Consultation at (314) 542-2210 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.

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The Attorneys at Estate Plan Strategies, LLC assist clients with Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Revocable Trusts, Asset Protection, Special Needs Planning, Charitable Giving, Probate and Estate Administration, and Business Services in the metropolitan St.Louis, Missouri area. Areas we serve include Clayton, Chesterfield, Ballwin, Creve Coeur, Richmond Heights, Maryland Heights, Florissant, Hazelwood, Affton, Ladue, Fenton, University City, Sunset Hills in St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, Franklin County and Lincoln County.

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