When someone dies without a will, the estate belonging to the deceased becomes subject to probate. During this process, a court makes decisions on the distribution of assets.
Many complications can arise during probate proceedings. If they surface, the expense rises. An already long experience might take even more time.
Problem #1: Assessments encounter conflict
Coming to an agreed-upon valuation of an estate tends to be complex. Every asset must have a dollar figure, including property, vehicles, artwork and jewelry. One reason is that the total determines how much taxes the IRS will eventually impose. Reasonable auditors can come to different value conclusions, leading to a sticky battle.
Problem #2: Creditors make claims
While probate is ongoing, creditors may make claims against an estate. Satisfying the outstanding debt comes first. Sadly, relatives sometimes wind up shouldering the financial burden. Debt collection scams are a concern. Thus, these assertions must receive verification before payment. Ascertaining the truthfulness of financial demands may be complex.
Problem #3: Assets are missing
Relatives of the deceased could know that specific assets are part of an estate. Absent a will, verifying ownership often proves a challenge. Survivors must present paperwork that cements legal possession. Sometimes, the late individual is unsuccessful in communicating the location of these documents and items. Hunting them down often results in frustration.
Probate can be a smooth experience. That said, there is a greater likelihood of trouble when one fails to take the proper steps. Awareness of the potential pitfalls is imperative in avoiding a legalistic nightmare.