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Common misconceptions about wills and the probate process

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2020 | Wills And Trusts

Only 40% of Americans have taken time to sit down and draft a will. Researchers have found that warnings that all adults should have wills in place have often reached the other 60% of the adult population. The only problem is that many of the individuals that this message reaches are misinformed about what happens if they die without a will. Changing their perspectives isn’t an easy feat.

Many individuals assume that their titled property such as their home will automatically pass to their spouse or other co-owner when they die regardless of whether there’s a will in place or not. While this often happens if spouses or parents and their adult children took the time to add the appropriate names to the deed or to draft certain legal documents, it doesn’t necessarily happen automatically.

The researchers found that individuals also tend to think that their estate won’t have to be probated if they draft a will and appoint an executor. Researchers found that many people believed that the probate court would decide matters for them if they died without a will. While this does happen, judges don’t necessarily make the same decisions that you would. They instead follow intestate succession rules in doing so. All estates must be probated.

One of the final misconceptions that researchers determined that individuals have about wills is that any assets inventoried in it will be protected from creditors. This isn’t the case though. Property, investment accounts and cash placed in trusts are the only assets that avoid the probate process and are therefore shielded from creditors.

If there’s something about wills and trusts that’s been keeping you from moving forward in crafting an estate plan, then you need to address those concerns right away. Death doesn’t wait for anyone. You should meet with a wills and trusts attorney in Frederick to get some clarifications.