Top 5 Probate Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Estate planning and probate is a complex area of law with high stakes. Those who find themselves in the position of executing a loved one’s estate after their passing can be alarmed by just how many tribulations wait around every corner. Probate can be a time-consuming process that leaves you reaching for the ibuprofen on a daily basis. Learn more about the challenges you may encounter as you navigate probate in Warr Acres, OK.
Struggling to figure out how you can protect your loved one’s legacy and ensure that their wishes are carried out? We can help. Our team of probate attorneys have helped families through probate with all sorts of estates, from small, simple estates to massive estates that must be distributed to dozens of beneficiaries. Call us at 800-633-7230 to set up a consultation now.
Lack of a Valid Will
The lack of a valid will is one of the most common challenges faced by family members as they try to get through probate. Requirements vary by state; in Oklahoma, a will must be signed by two impartial individuals who also list their place of residence near their signature. If a will does not have witnesses, its witnesses cannot be verified, or it is not signed by the testator, it may be considered invalid. This requires the executor to either prove the will’s validity, locate a valid will, or figure out how assets will be distributed according to intestate succession laws.
Taxes and Other Financial Obligations
There are many tasks that must be completed before a decedent’s beneficiaries can inherit. One of the most important jobs of an executor is to pay any taxes due out of the estate and cover any other financial obligations. In general, any taxes owed by the decedent are paid out of their estate. This can be a significant chunk of a person’s estate, so it’s crucial to do this early before the estate starts diminishing in value. A decedent’s estate must also cover the debts that were left unpaid at the time of death. In some cases, these debts are organized, listed in full, and easy to verify. In other situations, the decedent may have left many small debts sprawled across the places they’ve lived. This is why it’s important to follow state law when it comes to giving creditors time to make a claim. An executor must file a notice with the court clerk and then publish that notice in a county newspaper twice over two consecutive weeks. This notice must also be sent to all known creditors. Until these debts are verified and paid, probate can lag.
Disputes Among Beneficiaries
When there’s money on the table, there’s bound to be fights. Previously close family members may be at each other’s throats over what they think they deserve and what other people are set to receive. If anyone raises disputes over the will’s legitimacy or other issues with the estate, plan on the already-slow process of probate dragging even more. Not only does this chip away at the value of the estate and cause unnecessary delays, it can cause irreparable damage to family members’ relationships.
Ideally, a decedent will have their assets well-cataloged and documented, making it easy for their personal representative to locate them and either distribute them or sell them. If the decedent died unexpectedly and did not have time to get their affairs in order, their personal representative may have to take up this task. This can be incredibly time-consuming, as the personal representative may have to locate assets across various places the decedent lived, figure out if there are debts attached to those assets, and get those assets into valuation.
The Time and Expense of Probate
Even in the case of a simple estate, probate can easily take six to twelve months. For the personal representative, this can mean substantial time lost to routine tasks and complex legal work that they are completely unfamiliar with. Assuming the personal representative has their own obligations, such as a family and career, this can be incredibly stressful.
Get Help With Your Loved One’s Estate—Contact Entz Burton & Associates
Working with an Oklahoma probate attorney is one of the easiest ways to make this process as stress-free as possible. If you’ve been named the personal representative of an estate and you’re in over your head, give us a call at 800-633-7230 or send us a message online to set up a consultation.
Attorney J. Michael Entz at Entz Burton & Associates is an experience lawyer in estate planning law, business formation and asset protection serving the families in Oklahoma City and Weatherford office.