What Can Go Wrong During Probate

Probate is a legal process that facilitates the transfer of assets after someone has passed away. Since probate involves the court, many people prefer to find a way to avoid it happening to their estate by whatever means possible. Thankfully, there are dedicated legal teams that are experienced in estate planning and can provide guidance based on an individual’s circumstances. When problems occur during probate, the entire process can become more costly and stressful. Probate can be time-consuming, and delay rightful beneficiaries from receiving their inheritance. Here are a few of the most common issues that arise during probate:

The Executor Has Not Fulfilled Duty

An executor is someone the decedent appointed to handle their estate once they pass away. An executor has a fiduciary duty to act for the best interest of the estate and the deceased, and not for themselves. If the executor engages in selfish behavior or otherwise doesn’t fulfill their duties during probate, there are remedies available. The court may choose to remove an executor and appoint a different person to take proper care of the estate. A heir or beneficiary may file legal action against the executor for breach of fiduciary duty if they suffered financial loss from the failure of the executor to effectuate their role as they should have.

Assets Cannot Be Found

Delays may result if there are assets that should be part of probate but cannot be located. The executor may attempt to find the entirety of a decedent’s estate assets, that will ultimately be transferred to new owners. Such an issue can be prevented if the person writing the estate plan provides clear instructions for where assets are located. As a probate lawyer In Fort Collins, CO families trust from W.B. Moore Law can attest, probate may be unnecessarily delayed, making it more difficult for beneficiaries to receive the assets they were designated. 

The Will Has Been Contested

If a person, usually a beneficiary, doesn’t believe a will is an honest reflection of the deceased’s wishes, then they may contest the will in court. However, this person will need to prove as to why the will should not be probated. A main reason why wills get contested are if the decedent established the will under duress, coercion, or fraud. Depending on who else is involved in the estate, beneficiaries, heirs, or the executor may present evidence that shows the will is valid and a truthful reflection of what the deceased wanted. 

There are many reasons why problems may develop during probate. When these issues arise, probate can add more stress to family members and friends who are already going to be grieving their loss. Those who are considering writing their estate plan, or need to update one, are encouraged to make sure they have covered all their bases and have taken steps to prevent these problems from happening.