Many common misconceptions exist surrounding the probate court process.
Myth: “Probate court can tie up the estate for years.”
Truth: An estate generally must stay open for six months to allow creditors to make any claims they may have against the estate. Typically, if an estate stays open longer than six months, it is because more time is needed for an executor to sell the decedent’s house or file the decedent’s final income tax return. The efficiency of the probate court process is mostly dependent on how quickly assets are sold or transferred, not on the efficiency of probate court itself.
Myth: “A Living Trust is the best way to avoid probate court.”
Truth: While Living Trusts are good planning options for many individuals, there are also other ways to avoid probate court, particularly the designation of beneficiaries on various assets. (See How to Avoid Probate Court and Is a Living Trust Right for You? for more information.)
Myth: “Probate court costs a lot of money.”
Truth: Probate court costs are limited to relatively small filing fees, regardless of the size of the estate. In Hamilton County, Ohio, the cost is usually $250 for any full estate. However, the largest estate expenses are typically attorney fees and executor fees, which may depend on the amount of assets in the estate.