3 Common Probate Mistakes, Explained

This post explains three of the most common probate mistakes that are seen time and time again. The best way to avoid many of them is enlisting the help of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can create a formal will that includes language to avoid most of the probate process altogether.

Probate can be an arduous and laborious process, especially for larger estates. Even unorganized estates of average means can result in significant, drawn-out disputes. Understanding some of these common probate mistakes (and how to avoid them) can make the estate resolution process easier, especially during a tough and emotional time.

Not Understanding Your Personal Liability

It’s vital to understand your role as the executor of an estate or the heir. In most cases, you’re also now the primary fiduciary. This means you’re potentially taking on significant financial liability if the estate has unresolved debts, taxes, or other considerations. If the government is owed money from the deceased, they may be able to take action towards the estate to collect on those debts, which is a burden that you’re likely unprepared to deal with.

Taking on Too Much as One Person

Some executors tend to enjoy the power of an estate too much and can’t think fairly and calmly about all of the things that need to happen following a death to resolve a loved one’s estate. If you’re not prepared to deal with every single consideration to close and finalize someone’s estate, then you may not be the best candidate to be a legal representative.

Not Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney to Guide the Estate Through Probate

Perhaps the most important thing you can do is urge your loved one to hire an estate planning attorney to draft a will before their death so probate can be avoided as much as possible. In the event that he or she didn’t formalize one, hiring an attorney who understands probate can take a lot off your plate and offer another mind to strategize with to help retain as much value of the estate as possible. Probate is not the time to skimp on representation and can be a hard process to do alone with no prior understanding.


A qualified estate planning attorney has the knowledge and expertise to avoid other mistakes and help make the probate process as painless as possible. Richard P. Arthur, Attorney at Law has more than 25 years of legal experience helping clients on a variety of matters, especially with probate situations. Call 937-254-3738 today to learn more.