By definition, probate is the process of reviewing someone’s assets and determining who the inheritors should be. This proceeding usually focuses on the authenticity, validity, and existence of a will that the deceased left behind. But probate may be initiated with or without the presence of a will, and is often essential if the person’s remaining estate is of a certain value and a will was not written. As a probate lawyer offers, those who want to avoid probate costs and delays can create an authenticated will or use other estate planning strategies to prevent this from happening to their estate in the future.
When a property owner passes away, their assets are frequently reviewed by the probate court, who offers the final ruling on distribution and division of assets to inheritors. Probate starts by assessing if the deceased person has a legalized will. In many cases, the person who passed has established documentation that lists how they want their assets to be distributed upon their death. However, in other instances, there is no will at all.
The testator is referred to as the person who passed, and when they die, an executor is appointed to carry out their wishes. The executor is typically a family member, but if the deceased does not have a will or did not appoint an executor, then the court will do so instead. The executor has the role of filing a will to the probate court. But depending on the state, there are rules for how long a will can be brought forward after the deceased’s death. The executor has several roles to fulfill, such as paying off debts and taxes, communicating with beneficiaries, and distributing assets from the estate based on the will and/or state law, among many other duties.
The more complicated or contested an estate case is, the more time it may take before it’s completely settled and assets can be distributed to heirs. The longer probate takes to conclude, the more time and cost is involved. Probating an estate without having a will is often more expensive compared to probating a case that has a valid will. Furthermore, probate proceedings are public, so this means basically anyone can find out the details of the decedent’s estate easily and accessibly, sometimes online.
If you prefer to not have your estate become public knowledge in the future, then you can get help from an estate planning law firm, such as W.B. Moore Law, for advice on how to protect your legacy. Probate can serve an important function when need be, but it can also be a hindrance and cause serious delay for inheritors. Probate prioritizes authentication before a document can be carried out. But since it tends to be public and cause get caught up in the court system, most people try to avoid it. Even if you think you do not have enough assets to need an estate plan, if you have any items or money that you want given to those closest to you, then having legally valid documentation can make all the difference.