8 Smart Tips To Handle Probate Processes

When someone passes away, their loved ones would inevitably go through a period of grief. However, feelings of sadness and loss may not be the only things they …

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When someone passes away, their loved ones would inevitably go through a period of grief. However, feelings of sadness and loss may not be the only things they have to deal with if the deceased has assets to be distributed. Even though those might be the least of their relatives’ priorities during the grieving period, they can’t be avoided forever. At some point, someone has to give certain individuals what the decedent wanted them to have.

If the decedent left a will, the distribution can often be done without a problem. But in some cases, people could contest the will or the decedent had creditors. In such situations, probate is unavoidable. Probate is the process of passing the assets according to the intestate laws in the absence of a will or if the will is contested.

The probate process can drag on for a long time and be costly, eating into the beneficiaries’ resources. According to sites like https://weinerlegacylaw.com/probate-calculator/, your family could end up paying thousands of dollars in probate fees. Such expenses and the length of the process itself are why you should try to avoid probate entirely. However, if there’s truly no way around it, here are some tips on how to deal with the matter:

  1. Make Sure That The Will Is Valid

Having a valid will is a critical step in handling or even avoiding the probate. For the will to be deemed authentic, it should meet all of the state’s requirements. First, the will must be in writing, and the person who made it should’ve signed and dated it. At the time of making the will, the descendent should’ve been of sound mind, too.

Secondly, the will has to be signed by two adult witnesses stating that the will maker was indeed of sound mind and not under any influence. In some states, the will can be notarized instead of witnessed. Usually, the court will determine the will’s validity, but as long as the document was created adhering to the state’s requirements, the probate process may go more smoothly.

  1. Hold Titles To Assets

The decedent can help expedite the probate process by holding titles to some or all properties. If the decedent intended to leave the property to their spouse or domestic partners, then getting a title will help to transfer the asset to the beneficiary; in such cases, probate can even be avoided altogether.

  1. Designate Assets To Beneficiaries And Co-Owners

Some valuable assets may not go through a will and shouldn’t be subjected to the probate process. Such assets could include payable-on-death bank accounts, co-owned properties, properties transferred to a living trust, and funds in a retirement account.

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Designating these assets to beneficiaries helps keep a large amount of money out of probate and speed up the entire process. The beneficiaries, however, won’t have a claim to these assets while the owner of the will or testator is still alive.

Also, an important thing to take note of is that if the designated beneficiary of certain assets dies before the testator, those assets will still go through probate to determine the rightful beneficiary.

  1. Have Witnesses Sign A Self-Proving Affidavit

When the court authenticates the will’s validity, it’ll require the witnesses who’d signed the will to be located so they can attest to its validity. The probate process will likely experience delays because of this since searching for the witnesses could take a long time. It’s possible for them to either be incapacitated or deceased, which would further lengthen the process.

However, when witnesses sign a self-proving affidavit, the court won’t need to find them to authenticate the will physically. The probate can start at once. If that’s not the case for your late relative’s witnesses, see to it that everyone else in your family who’s looking to leave a will is aware of that matter so the same problem can be avoided in the future.

  1. Hire An Experienced Estate Attorney

Lawyer SignThe probate process is conducted by a court of law, which makes it a legal process. A seasoned legal professional should therefore be the one to handle it. While it may be tempting to take on the process alone, it’s best not to. When dealing with creditors and other people contesting the will, let someone with extensive experience in the field do it.

Moreover, the probate can start while you’re still grieving, and the emotional burden could be overwhelming. The process might then go on for several months because you aren’t emotionally stable enough to deal with tedious court appearances. Your attorney can represent you and keep you updated on every proceeding.

  1. Gather Accurate Records

The administration process involves several documents such as financial paperwork, estate inventories, and other personal records that may be needed. Those are significant in determining creditors and their claim period. That period varies from state to state and depends on the creditor. Having documents that indicate the claim period would help the administrator determine which creditor should be included in the probate process before filing a final report.

When all of the records are well documented, the probate process can be completed in a shorter time.

  1. Give Proper Notice

All parties involved should be given proper notice concerning the probate process and actions. It’s the role of the estate administrator to inform the family members, other beneficiaries, and the creditors as early as possible before the probate starts.

If the administrator fails to provide proper notice according to the legal requirements, there might be delays as different people, such as creditors who weren’t informed, could challenge the distribution.

  1. Do Not Miss Deadlines

There are specific deadlines within which you have to open the probate process and file documents. In some states, the probate should be opened within 30 days of the decedent’s death. Documents also have to be filed and presented, and a final report on the assets needs to be provided.

Failure to meet the deadlines will mean the probate process stays open for an extended time and may keep getting delayed. Also, there could be more court appearances, tax implications, and fees incurred the longer the whole procedure takes to complete.

Conclusion

The probate process can be time-consuming, and it could cause a heavy burden to relatives in mourning. Still, the court decision may not go in favor of all the people contesting the deceased’s assets. Therefore, the probate needs to be handled correctly and completed as soon as possible.

It all starts with how the decedent makes the will as it should meet the state’s requirements. Then, it moves on to how the administrator handles the probate. Working with a reliable attorney would be highly beneficial if you want to have a good outcome without going through a lot of hassle.

Author’s Bio

Esther Daniel is a property law expert. She has been in the legal industry for more than 10 years. Esther shares her expertise by writing blogs and guest posts online. During her free time, she loves reading and traveling.

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