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Common mistakes people make while handling probate alone

In an effort to save money, some executors under an Ohio testator's will opt for a do-it-yourself method to take on probate tasks. However, the process is complicated, and they could be held legally and financially responsible if they make any oversights or mistakes.

Since there are several legal notices that a person may have to file during probate, it might be difficult determining which ones are necessary and which ones are not. For example, many states require all of the testator's heirs, even those who are not named in the will, to receive notice. Otherwise, they may be able to contest the will.

Another possible pitfall facing those who try to handle probate on their own is failing to give notice to creditors. Notifying creditors of the decedent's death gives them a chance to require payments in full. People who skip this step can be held personally liable for any of the decedent's debts.

Failing to obtain a bond is a further mistake that can be made during probate, unless the will waives it. Otherwise, a bond is required for people who file a probate action with the court and wish to be the estate's personal representative. Bonds in this case work as an insurance policy in the event the personal representative fails to fulfill one of the numerous probate requirements. However, getting a bond could be pricey, especially if a person has poor credit. In some cases, a personal representative may not be able to get one, which means he or she is not qualified for the role.

because of the complexity of the laws, executors can easily make a mistake, which can lead to expensive probate litigation. Instead, they might consider contacting an estate planning attorney for guidance.

Source: Yuma Sun, "Estate Planning: Probate is not a do-it-yourself project", Adam Hansen, Sept. 12, 2016

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