Probate is a process often associated with lengthy proceedings and large expenses. This is not always the case, but people believe it because there is a lot of confusion surrounding probate.
Proceedings also have the potential to be complex (though again, this is not always the case). As a result, individuals often have questions about probate, some more common than others.
1. If there is a will, does probate still happen?
In recent times, the number of people writing wills went up. Many believe that the presence of a will precludes probate. However, probate may still be necessary, depending on the size and contents of the decedent’s estate.
2. Is probate avoidable?
In certain situations, estate planning may help people avoid probate. In others, it is unavoidable. There do exist ways to shorten the process or avoid formal proceedings though.
3. Are there ways to prevent contestation of a will?
Disgruntled relatives may contest wills on several grounds. While contestation may not always be preventable, individuals may plan for such eventualities by making them difficult. For instance, if the deceased left a letter or video explaining his or her decisions, it is harder to prove mental incompetence or coercion. A no-contest clause, where an heir loses all inheritance if he or she contests the will, is another method people may use. Leaving behind a pittance for certain individuals may serve as a defense against claims that the will writer simply forgot the said individuals.
Probate may seem like a scary prospect to many. Remaining aware of the facts and developing a plan well in advance help individuals deal with it.