When you are left in charge of a loved one's estate, it is easy to assume that everything will be smooth sailing as long as you were designated as the executor. However, even when lines seem to be clearly drawn, it is common to run into problems during probate. Probate is the legal process in which a judge deems the will and final estate valid, and this has to happen before you are actually allowed to do anything with the estate that has been left to you.
It is imperative that you do not go at the probate process without the guidance of an attorney. Here's a look at some of the problems you could face if you do not have a probate attorney helping you through the process.
Probate could take much longer than it should.
Probate in itself is not a simple process and can take many months to see full completion. This is because there are so many factors to be considered in the probate process that can lengthen the process. If problems are experienced at any point during the probate, it can prolong efforts even more. Having an attorney will ensure that when problems come up, they are handled quickly.
You find out the estate has debts against it after the fact.
During probate, debts and expenses are examined by the judge and probate council. However, if you do not have an attorney working with you, the same time and attention will not be given to recovering these debts and expenses so they can be examined during the probate process. If debts and expenses come up after the probate is complete, you could be held financially responsible for them out of your own pocket, which can be a scary situation.
You end up facing a family probate legal battle.
It is not at all unheard of for family members and loved ones to not agree with final arrangements, the will, and the designation of the estate. If you do not have a probate attorney leading you through the probate process in a professional, well-handled way, it can leave cracks and gray areas that make it easier for upset family members to bring a suit against you later on. For example, if someone feels you are not handling debts of the estate in the correct manner, a family member could file a suit claiming you are not fit as the executor.