When a loved one passes away, many people believe they have an immediate right over the estate – this isn’t exactly true. In most cases, people have to wait for a legal process called probate to end before they see any of their inheritance.
Understanding what probate is and when it’s necessary can be confusing. When making an estate plan, you should be aware of your legal requirements. However, the following explains what you may need to know:
Court-supervised legal process
Probate, essentially, is a legal process that allows courts to validate and distribute an estate. A valid will is one that was written and signed by the testator, who was in sound mind, and witnessed by two people. Any alterations to a will may need an affidavit or a sworn and signed statement or live testimony from a witness.
Executor of the estate
During the process, an executor of the estate will be approved and given permission to perform their role and distribute assets. An executor of the estate not only distributes assets but they are responsible for submitting the deceased’s death certificates to concerned parties and collecting benefits. Likewise, they may be required to secure the estate and precious assets and pay off loans, debts, mortgages, utility bills and taxes.
As such. Probate can take several months or years, often depending on when a will is filed with a court and how swiftly the executor can perform their duties. If there’s no will, then the state will step in to disturbed assets, which may lengthen the probate process.
Someone who believes that there is an issue with the estate plan may contest the will during probate. As a result, the probate process may be extended. However, the person contesting probate needs to have reasonable belief there were issues, such as the testator’s lack of mental capacity or undue influence.
Probate can be lengthy, confusing and full of difficulties. If you’re making a will, it’s important to understand your will may go through probate. That being said, many people will make a trust to avoid having their family and loved ones wait during the probate process.