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Common Misconceptions About Probate

Eric H. Light, P.A. Nov. 29, 2022

Lawyer takes a book Probate law from a shelfThere are so many available sources of information these days that it’s almost impossible to keep up. You can read the news online, scroll through headlines on social media, listen to a podcast or radio show, and of course, you can always watch the news on television. Your neighbors, friends, and family all can be sources of news as well. But, how do you know that the information you’re receiving is accurate?   

When it comes to your legacy and estate, it’s essential that you have the right information to make the right decisions for your family. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can help you be confident that you have the right information and that you’re making the best choices for your unique situation.  

I have over 20 years of experience helping Florida families craft exceptional estate plans. I prefer to work one-on-one with my clients outside of the courtroom to make sure their best interests are represented. My firm, Eric H. Light, P.A., proudly represents clients in Boca Raton, Florida, and the nearby areas. 

Here are five misconceptions about probate to be aware of as you consider your estate plan. 

If I have a will, my estate won’t go through probate.  

All wills go through the probate process. Only the court can verify that the decedent’s property should pass to the beneficiaries. Having a legally-enforceable will in place can significantly expedite probate administration

Probate means that the state gets all my assets. 

This is false. While you may have heard the government takes all of your assets in the probate process, it is untrue. The probate process allows the court to make sure that your beneficiaries receive the property that you distributed to them. It does not allow the government to take all of your property. 

The probate process takes years to finalize. 

The timing and length of the probate process will vary; however, it usually does not take years to finalize. There is a mandatory waiting period that allows any creditors to seek payment from the estate. After that waiting period is over, as long as the estate executor has paid all debts and taxes and distributed all the property, probate can be finalized.  

Most often, it takes a year to finalize the probate process. If beneficiaries disagree on the contents of the will, they might choose to engage in probate litigation to sue for the property they believe they should inherit. Probate litigation can delay the process. 

Most of my estate will go to taxes. 

Unless your estate is worth many millions, it is unlikely that the majority of your estate will go to taxes. It’s possible that your estate may need to pay income taxes, and you may be able to avoid the estate tax entirely. Speak with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to learn more about the tax implications for your specific estate. 

I don’t need an attorney to go through the estate planning process. 

Do-it-yourself guides for wills are available online, but they do not offer the invaluable guidance of an attorney. Many are only applicable in certain states, and some are not legally enforceable at all.  

On the other hand, an attorney can guide you through each of the steps in the estate planning process. Your attorney can also guide you on the best way to maximize the benefits to your beneficiaries.  

Without an attorney’s guidance, your estate may spend a longer time in probate and your beneficiaries may not receive the assets that you designated for them. It is extremely important to make sure your estate plan is legally enforceable. 

Prepare for Your Future With a Skilled Attorney 

Don’t leave your family’s future up to chance. Take steps now to expedite the probate process and reduce the burdens on your family. As an experienced attorney and family man, I am committed to helping each of my clients create an estate plan that maximizes the benefits to their families. Eric H. Light, P.A. proudly represents clients in Boca Raton, Florida, and the nearby areas. Contact my firm today to schedule a consultation.