What are the problems with probate in the United States?

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What are the problems with probate in the United States?

Overview of the Probate process

The probate process begins when the executor of an estate files a petition with the probate court. During this point, the heirs and beneficiaries tied to the will are notified of the filed petition and can discuss the choice if they do not agree with any terms of the will. The executor is responsible for paying the debts and taxes due out of the estate, and they also have control of assets and property. As per the wish in the will, the executor distributes the remaining assets to the beneficiaries after paying the debts. The court follows the state’s intestacy rules in case of no choice.

The current challenges with probate in the United States

Currently, the problem with probate in the US is that there is not much education on navigating the process, which is confusing for many people. The following are the problems-

  1. The probate process is very long, even for families with smaller, more straightforward estates that only need simplified procedures. 
  2. The process in court systems lasts longer due to backlog. For example- In California can extend up to two years.
  3. This lengthy procedure can be very tough on families already suffering from the grieving process and those in need who could benefit from inheriting property sooner rather than later.
  4. Probate paperwork is confusing and difficult to understand; thus, people often make mistakes.
  5. Even if they try hard, there will often be some forgotten things. This may push the timeline even further.
  6. Some issues arise with individuals who have not filed the correct paperwork or for not filing the probate.
  7. For smaller estates, the court offers the “probate lite,” a simplified version of probate. Sometimes people opt for a lengthy process when they can opt for a streamlined process.
  8. If the individual does not apply for the probate when required, they create repercussions.
  9. If, for example, a husband passes away and the probate is not filed, after some time, when the wife passes away after 20 years, the children need to open not just one but two probates to get their names updated on the dead.
  10. There is another problem if you don’t create probate on time, it will produce adverse impacts.
  11.  The further problems include the gap after someone passes away, property tax payment, and where the money came from. Is the family granted to rent out the property? The process changes based on the circumstances and the state that the client resides in.

The solution to the problem of probate in the United States

The solution to the problems of the probate system is approached in two ways: systemic and individual levels. The leading explanation is to increase education in society regarding probate and estate planning at the systemic level. This may include the public education initiatives and education provided by the services. They need to teach how to do the proper paperwork. The increased number of services related to the paperwork makes it easier for the executors to file their correct probate paperwork. They can ask for guidance and support in determining which paperwork to file and how to fill it out correctly. The applicant can minimize the mistakes that can help reduce the backlog in the court system. A lot of work might increase the awareness of the probate process and normalize conversations related to topics such as estate planning. People need to seek the correct knowledge, education, and support.


The probate process is generally complex, and when any mistake is involved, then the time for the probate completion takes time. And the probate takes place in a public court, which means everything is a matter of public record, so there is no privacy. The probate can find out every person behind the deceased person’s heirs received. The executor can also review the dead person’s estate court records. The challenges can be worked upon, and take steps to manage the probate process.

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