Family disputes over real estate or gifts. Contesting wills or trusts. Conflicts about guardianships or conservatorships. These are all examples of issues that can result in lengthy probate litigation cases. Experts advice families on the importance of proactive planning and communication to avoid the money, time, and heartache of probate litigation.
Streamlined Probate Procedures
Now that many states offer simplified and even expedited approaches, the probate process commonly takes a few months to a year. Much of course depends on family preparations, like having a will and naming an executor. If there is no will, the court will appoint a personal representative or administrator and use state intestate law to determine the distribution of assets. Unpaid taxes, debts, conflicts among family members or contested wills are examples of what can cause complexities and delays during probate. In these instances, it is common for probate courts to request a fiduciary bond to protect the beneficiaries and estate until the issues are resolved. You can learn more about the purpose and types of fiduciary bonds —and how to quickly obtain them from the national provider, Colonial Surety, right here.
Real Estate Transfers?
Estate law experts caution that seemingly sound real estate transfers from parents to children can open doors for later litigation—and family conflict. JD Supra provides this example:
Before transferring 90% of real property to one child and 10% to another, think about the consequences of that choice. Is the 10% intended to allow that child access to the property? Are you hoping the child will obtain 10% of the rental income? Be clear when creating ownership shares in varying percentages. Forcing the children to interpret your underlying intent in the future is not only burdensome but creates the possibility of a dispute between siblings.
Clearly communicating intentions and expectations in families is key to avoiding probate litigation—and of course, creates family well-being too. Sometimes, the preparation of a letter of instruction is a helpful way to express and document the intentions behind decisions made in a will or trust. Though not a legal document, a letter of instruction can be useful if grieving family members find themselves wondering about the arrangements made for the estate.
To mitigate the risk of probate litigation, legal experts advise that It is also important to document gifts that are given, received or intended: Just because dad tells you that someday he wants you to have his baseball card collection does not mean he has gifted that collection to you and you now own it. If dad truly does intend to gift that collection to you, put something in signed writing or ask him to make that gift in his estate planning documents. Nothing welcomes probate litigation quite like a dispute over a collection of baseball cards.
The more families understand about probate basics, the more prepared they are when the time comes to file the will and death certificate of a loved one in probate court. Probate court is often a family’s first experience in a court—and understanding the nuts and bolts is reassuring. Keep in mind too, that it is not uncommon for probate to ask the appointed representative or administrator to obtain a probate bond. These bonds protect the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries in accordance with state law.
Colonial Surety is here to help you quickly obtain the specific bond requested quickly—anywhere in the country. Our I-Bond® service provides instant and digital probate bonds, as well as administrator, executor, fiduciary, estate and personal representative bonds. At Colonial, the steps to obtaining these bonds are easy—get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter your payment method. Print or e-file the bond right from anywhere—even while at court. Obtain a Probate Bond Here.
Probate Law? Partner Up
Still, doing the hokey pokey every time clients need court bonds? Colonial’s direct, fully digital, user-friendly I-Bond® system reduces the time, hassle, and expense typically associated with antiquated bonding processes. In addition to providing bonds directly to the general public, Colonial offers The Partnership Account® for Attorneys service. This free business service provides user-friendly client management dashboards, enabling attorneys to easily coordinate, view, complete, and e-file the court and fiduciary bonds clients need. Increase your efficiency—and lower costs for clients. See for yourself today: The Partnership Account® for Attorneys.
Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct writer of surety bonds and insurance products. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.