Common Probate Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
The last thing most individuals want to consider after losing a loved one is the practical and legal repercussions of that person’s death. However, if you have been chosen to manage the probate process for an intestate estate (the one without a Will) or if you have been nominated as the executor of that estate in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament, you must consider those aspects of the decedent’s death.
If this is your first time managing an estate, you could be uncertain of what is necessary. Additionally, you may make mistakes throughout the probate process due to your emotional state. For these reasons, most executors seek the advice of an accomplished probate attorney throughout the probate process. While you wait, learn about common probate mistakes and how to avoid them from a Las Vegas probate attorney at The Giuliani Law Firm.
Common Probate Mistakes
Here are some of the common probate mistakes.
Failing To Consider Other Alternatives To Formal Probate
One of the most common mistakes people make while probating an estate is failing to evaluate if other alternatives for formal probate could be used in place of it. It can be an alternative for small estates. A small estate option for formal probate could be offered in Nevada, for instance, if:
- The estate is worth less than $25,000; someone paid funeral and burial expenses of up to $5,000 and is seeking reimbursement.
- The value of the estate is $100,000 or less.
- The state is worth $100,000 or less, and the surviving spouse receives everything.
Mismanaging Estate Assets
Most first-time executors are still determining the actions they must take and when to take them. As a result, assets are occasionally mismanaged. Securing all assets as quickly as feasible is one of the first things you must do as an estate’s personal representative or executor. Depending on the asset, this could imply several things.
When it comes to real property, you might need to physically seal up the property and make arrangements for its care and upkeep instead of financial accounts, where you may only have to close the account. Additionally, you must compile a list of all estate assets and distinguish between those that must go through probate and those that do not. Additionally, the executor must assign a value to any asset subject to probate as of the date of death.
Some estate debts might look suspicious. An example would be if a deceased person, reputed to be good with money, suddenly opened several credit cards near the end of their life. Consider if the deceased might have been a victim of financial abuse or fraud before their death if you have questions about the source of any estate debts. If your suspicions are validated, you should consider using an applicable compensation plan or insurance policy to ask the fraudster or abuser to pay back the estate.
Claims are always justified depending on the estate conditions, the fraud or abuse, and the beneficiaries. A solicitor can assist in assessing and evaluating a claim’s suitability, but the executor will ultimately decide whether it is.
Going At It Alone
You might not need legal assistance if the estate is eligible for a small estate alternative to formal probate; nevertheless, if formal probate is necessary, it is typically a mistake to go without the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. Hiring an expert lawyer will significantly lower your chance of incurring expensive mistakes throughout the probate process.
Making Mistakes In The Approval, Notification, Or Priority Of Creditors’ Claims
The executor must notify all potential creditors of the estate’s probate. Unknown creditors must be contacted via publication by a local newspaper; known creditors may be notified verbally. The probate must remain open for the required time to allow creditors to claim the estate.
Failing To Calculate Gift And Estate Taxes Accurately
Federal gift and estate taxes may apply to all estates. Estate taxes are often expensive to calculate incorrectly. The executor is also responsible for filing estate tax filings on behalf of the estate. That is another reason to cooperate with an estate planning attorney to avoid making a mistake that could significantly reduce the estate’s value, which is left for beneficiaries. Your lawyer can assist you in accurately estimating the estate’s probate-eligible value, calculating any taxes owed, and guiding you through filing the necessary return and paying the tax bill.
How to Avoid Common Mistakes
Avoiding common mistakes in probate is crucial to ensure a smooth and efficient distribution of a deceased person’s estate. To help you navigate this process more effectively, here are some tips to avoid common mistakes:
- Seek Professional Guidance: Probate can be a complex legal process, and laws can vary from one jurisdiction to another. It’s essential to consult with an experienced probate attorney who can guide you through the process, answer your questions, and help you avoid potential pitfalls.
- Locate and Secure Important Documents: Before proceeding with probate, gather all relevant documents, including the deceased person’s will, financial records, deeds, insurance policies, and other pertinent paperwork. Safely store and organize these documents to avoid loss or confusion during the probate process.
- Understand the Will and Estate: Thoroughly read and comprehend the deceased person’s will. Identify the assets and debts of the estate, as well as any specific instructions or conditions in the will. Misinterpreting the will can lead to disputes and delays in the probate process.
- Inventory and Appraise Assets: Create a detailed inventory of all the assets, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and other valuables. It’s essential to have these assets appraised accurately to determine their fair market value.
- Settle Taxes and Debts: Before allocating assets to heirs and beneficiaries, settle any outstanding debts and taxes owed by the deceased person or the estate. If you don’t, it may result in legal complications and even personal liability for the executor or administrator.
- Timely Filings and Deadlines: Adhere to all probate court order deadlines and requirements. Follow deadlines to avoid additional costs and unnecessary delays in settling the estate.
- Stay Impartial: If you are the executor or administrator of the estate, act impartially and avoid favoritism among beneficiaries. You must administer the estate fairly and follow the law.
Following these six tips will significantly improve your probate experience and help ensure the proper distribution of the deceased person’s estate.
Navigating the probate process can be a challenging and emotionally taxing experience. However, by being aware of common probate mistakes and learning how to avoid them, you can significantly ease the burden on yourself and your loved ones during this difficult time. If you need a lawyer to help you navigate the probate process, don’t hesitate to call The Giuliani Law Firm.
Contact a Nevada Probate Attorney
Protect your family’s future and ensure a seamless probate process in Nevada by seeking the guidance of a skilled probate attorney at The Giuliani Law Firm Don’t let common mistakes jeopardize your loved ones’ legacies!
Our experienced attorneys will assist you and your family members, guiding you through the complexities of probate so the heirs may receive the rightful inheritance they deserve.
Take the necessary steps today to secure a stable future for your family – get in touch with us for expert advice and personalized support.