Serving Northwest Florida Families For More Than 20 Years

Avoiding potential pitfalls of probate administration

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | Probate Administration |

Losing your loved ones is a deeply emotional experience. In the midst of grief, dealing with legal matters like probate administration can feel overwhelming. Probate, the legal process of distributing a deceased person’s assets, isn’t always a straightforward process.

Being aware of potential roadblocks can allow you to navigate probate more efficiently and minimize stress during this difficult time.

Missing or unclear will

A will dictates how assets are distributed, but if one doesn’t exist, or an existing document is unclear or outdated, the court distributes assets according to state law. Sometimes, this may not align with the deceased’s wishes. You can anticipate and avoid this pitfall by encouraging your loved ones to create or update their wills while they are healthy.

Unforeseen debts and taxes

While you might understand the deceased’s financial situation well, hidden debts or tax liabilities can surface during probate. These can delay the distribution of assets or even force the sale of property to settle outstanding balances. You can more successfully navigate this roadblock by gathering all financial documents, including recent bank statements, tax returns and receipts, to get a clear picture of the estate’s financial standing.

If you know that you are going to be administering a loved one’s estate after their passing, you may benefit from looking over these documents while your loved one is still around. That way, you can address any challenges head-on.

Family conflict

Probate can expose pre-existing family tensions. Disagreements over the interpretation of a will, the value of assets or the fairness of distributions can erupt. If you are named executor (the person responsible for managing the estate), prioritize open communication with beneficiaries. Explain the probate process, keep them informed of developments and be prepared to mediate any disputes that arise.

Probate administration can be complex, but by anticipating potential challenges, you can minimize delays and navigate them with greater confidence. Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone. Seeking legal guidance can facilitate careful planning and administration in order to help ensure that the deceased’s wishes are honored.

FindLaw Network