3 reasons that probate can diminish someone’s final legacy

On Behalf of | May 19, 2023 | Probate

Probate court is the special court wherein families and other interested parties make claims related to someone’s estate. The estate administration process typically involves filing someone’s planning paperwork, such as their will, with the courts, communicating with beneficiaries, settling financial responsibilities and then distributing assets in accordance with someone’s instructions.

Unfortunately, sometimes the probate process ends up consuming a significant portion of the assets an individual has left behind. What probate matters can potentially burn through the resources left in someone’s name when they die?

Estate taxes

Florida does not collect an estate tax based on the property someone owns when they die, but the federal government still does. Any estate worth more than $12,920,000 could be subject to tax at the federal level. In cases where the estate is quite large and there was no advance planning, the personal representative of the estate may need to allocate as much as 40% of the estate’s total value toward federal estate taxes.

Personal debt

Any amount of money owed by the decedent when they pass will become the responsibility of their estate. Credit card balances and debts owed for someone’s last medical treatments could substantially diminish what they pass to their loved ones. Even Medicaid benefits can consume part of an individual’s legacy and reduce what their chosen beneficiaries inherit from their estate. Typically, any assets passing through probate court are subject to creditor claims before family members have a right to inherit them.

Probate litigation

When there are challenges against someone’s estate planning paperwork or the actions of the representative of the estate, the legal proceedings that follow could potentially consume a noteworthy portion of the estate’s resources. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars to resolve a disagreement about the validity of someone’s estate planning paperwork, and the estate itself often has to absorb thanks a sizable portion of those expenses.

Testators who understand the challenges that could diminish what they leave for others can put together more effective estate plans. Beneficiaries and estate representatives who understand which other parties have claims against estate resources will be less likely to feel shocked and disappointed by the outcome of the probate process. Overall, seeking legal guidance and learning about Florida probate laws may potentially benefit anyone with a direct relationship to a Florida estate.