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Why putting off probate may be a bad idea

When all of a couple's assets are jointly owned and one spouse dies, the surviving spouse gets everything, right? So why go through the probate process? Probate may seem like a waste of time to some in Louisiana and elsewhere, but it has its purpose. Putting it off or not probating an estate at all can have consequences down the line.

An individual in another state recently asked if failing to probate his wife's estate is going to be a problem. According to this individual, his wife died nearly two decades ago. All the property was in both of their names, and her will left everything to him, so he never bothered going through the whole estate administration process. He says he has not had any legal issues but is curious if he should go through probate now.

The problem with not going through the probate process, even when it seems unnecessary, is that if this individual chooses to sell any property with his wife's name still attached to it, he may be unable to do so. Had he gone through the probate process, he would have been named the sole owner of the property, so he could do with it what he pleases. As he failed to probate the estate within a certain time frame, he may no longer be able to do it, and getting his wife's name off the property could take time and be quite costly.

Wanting to delay the probate process is understandable. Not everyone is ready to jump right in and get it over with. However, putting it off entirely is not a good idea. The purpose of the probate process is to make sure all assets are passed to the appropriate individuals and that proper ownership of those assets is granted. Those who have delayed opening probate cases in the state of Louisiana can turn to legal counsel for assistance closing out their loved one's estates properly or, if too much time has passed, dealing with any property ownership issues that need addressing.

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