Estate planning and probate can be complex matters that add stress to already stressful situations. In addition, there are many misconceptions associated with these matters. When approaching estate planning or probate, it’s important to know the facts of events, so that they can be approached and handled in a proper manner.

Myth: You Should Begin Estate Planning Later in Life

People often don’t even begin to think about estate planning until later life. Estate planning is associated with having large wealth and preparing for death, so younger people don’t think it is yet necessary.

Realistically, once you have begun accumulating assets, wealth or important belongings of any worth, you should start estate planning. This is especially true if you are married or have children.

Myth: A Personal Injury Settlement Does Not Alter Estate Plan

Many people believe that their estate will not be affected if they receive a personal injury settlement. Depending on the size of the award, however, a personal injury settlement usually alters a person’s assets and income substantially, which requires a reevaluation of the estate plans. This is because estate and inheritance taxes may be impacted, and you want to include any gained assets into your will. In fact, any time there is a change to a person’s financial status, it is advised to review and revise estate plans.

Myth: If There is No Will in Place, the State Gets the Property

When a person dies and does not leave a will behind, the state may control how the decedent’s estate is disbursed, but it does not become property of the state. Typically, the estate will be disbursed to the decedent’s heirs in accordance with state law.

Myth: The Probate Process Takes Years

Many people think that the probate process takes years. While in the most extreme cases probate can be a very lengthy process, this is not usually the case. Most estates complete the probate proceedings in about 6 to 9 months. The length of the probate process will vary by estate, depending on the state laws, the size and complexities of the estate, whether there is a will in place and estate debts and taxes involved. Typically, delays are caused by the period of time creditors have to file a claim.

Myth: The Cost of Probate Will Consume Money in an Estate

It is also commonly though that costs and fees associated with the probate process will consume a portion of the estate’s assets. While, yes, there are usually court costs and attorney fees tied to the probate process, they are not usually enough to have a large impact on the estate. These costs can often be contained and minimized when handles correctly.

Don’t let common myths add stress to an already stressful ordeal. If you are faced with any issues pertaining to estate planning or probate, you should contact an experienced attorney. An estate planning attorney or probate attorney from Legal Sweeney can help review your case and determine the best course of action moving forward.