In my experience at the Cramer Law Center, probate is one of the most misunderstood areas of the law among clients who seek our assistance. Three common misconceptions are:
1. Wills avoid probate. This may be the most common and most expensive misconception about probate. Probate is the process by which wills are administered. There are ways to avoid probate, but having a will is not one of them.
2. The probate process takes years to complete. Barring infighting amongst family members or other litigation regarding the estate, many probate administrations can be finalized within six months.
3. The personal representative (or executor) named in a deceased’s will can act immediately following death. This is incorrect – a will only nominates someone to serve as personal representative. The nominee has no actual authority until formally appointed by a probate court.