Young business man signing a last will and testament document in the office.

Common Misconceptions About Probate

Russell Manning Attorney  Sept. 6, 2022

Probate, which involves the administration of a deceased person’s estate, can be complicated and confusing. Unfortunately, there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding the probate process. Dispelling those misconceptions can help you get a better understanding of the process, your rights, and your options.  

As a probate attorney in Corpus Christi, Texas, I am dedicated to assisting individuals and families through the probate process. At Russell Manning Attorney at Law, I represent beneficiaries of the estate and personal representatives who work to settle an estate.  

What Are Common Misconceptions About the Probate Process? 

Probate is one of the most misunderstood processes in estate planning. That is why it is vital to be able to separate fact from fiction to know what to expect and what actions to take when administering a loved one’s estate or serving as a personal representative.  

  1. The state takes everything if you die without a will. Many people mistakenly believe that the state is going to take everything they own if they do not leave behind a will. That is not correct. When a person dies without a will, their assets will be distributed to their heirs according to intestate succession laws in their state.  

  1. Your estate will not go through probate if you have a will. Wrong. While having a will can simplify the probate process, the mere existence of a will at the time of death is not enough to avoid probate. In fact, wills must go through probate because the probate court must authenticate the will before administering the deceased person’s assets.  

  1. The probate process takes years. While it is true that probate can be a long and complex process, not all estates take years to finalize. The time it takes to close an estate depends on the size of the decedent’s estate, whether there are any disputes or contested issues, and other factors. On average, the probate process can take anywhere from four months to a year.  

  1. You must name your eldest child to serve as the personal representative. When you draft a will, you can name a personal representative of your estate. However, it is a common misconception that you are required to choose your eldest child as the personal representative. It is up to you who you choose to oversee the estate administration process.  

  1. There will be nothing left for your family because of estate taxes. Some people mistakenly believe that taxes will consume most of their estate. The truth is that Texas does not impose estate taxes, while the federal estate tax does not apply to estates worth less than $11 million.  

  1. There is nothing you can do to avoid or minimize probate. While it may seem that probate is inevitable, there are many estate planning tools and tactics that could help you avoid or minimize probate.   

  1. You do not need an attorney to navigate the probate process. Last but not least, some people think that hiring an attorney is a waste of money. However, an attorney can help you navigate the complicated matters of probate, whether you are a beneficiary or a personal representative.  

If you are in the process of developing an estate plan and want to minimize the probate process and its expenses, reach out to a knowledgeable estate planning attorney. At Russell Manning Attorney at Law, I explain to clients all available options to help them avoid getting their estate stuck in probate for months or even years.  

Turn to Trusted Representation   

If you need assistance with probating an estate or developing an estate plan to avoid or minimize probate, get legal guidance from Russell Manning Attorney at Law. There are many misconceptions about probate that may get in the way of planning. As a probate attorney in Corpus Christi, Texas, I guide my clients through the estate administration process in the Coastal Bend area and throughout South Texas. Contact me today for a case review.