Wills and Probate Myths

Most people don’t know all that much about the specific details of the law behind probate, trusts, and wills. They are, after all, topics the average person would prefer not to think about if they can help it. However, the basics should be common knowledge, especially in order to determine a myth when you see it. Because of the lack of common knowledge, misconceptions and half-truths have popped up over the years. As such, if you are, for instance, seeking out a family will lawyer in St. Petersburg FL, here are a few misconceptions that you should be made aware of.

#1. If there is no will, the state gets everything

Writing a last will and testament is a great idea for many, many reasons. However, worrying about the state seizing everything that belonged to you is not one of them. Deaths happen unexpectedly far more often than anyone wants to acknowledge, so there are rules in place for when it happens. When someone dies without a will (or dies “interstate” as the official term puts it) then the state law kicks in. What happens next varies from state to state, but generally speaking, the spouse and children of the deceased are first on the list of inheritors.

#2. Probating an estate takes years

The only delay you’ll typically face when probating the estate of the deceased, is the law mandated period that lets creditors file claims. The length of this period varies, again, based on what state you’re in. However, there are cases that can cause a probate case to take a few years longer than it usually would. These include family squabbles on who gets what from the will, the estate being so large that sorting it all out would take years in and of itself, or if the estate is that of a celebrity, which continues to receive ongoing income for years, even decades after their death.

#3. The oldest sibling is named the executor

While possible, this is not set in stone, as some may feel. Simply being the eldest sibling does not guarantee you a place as executor of the estate. If your parents name your youngest sibling as the executor, and they have no criminal record or disability that leaves them unable to perform the task, then they are the executor, no questions asked. While more than one child can share the role of executor, this can cause friction in the family, so proceed with caution.

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