Are you about to go through the probate process? If that is the case, then it would be best if you educated yourself on the topic beforehand. Fortunately, this article should help you do that very quickly and effectively.
We consulted the experts from Probate Advance – a company specializing in inheritance advice – and asked for some help. Here, you will find a comprehensive guide to the probate process, which will cover quite a few things, ranging from what the probate process is and what its steps are exactly to how long it takes and who should do it.
Read on and see what awaits you.
The Basics of the Probate Process
The probate process is a legal procedure that is required when there is a will. During this procedure, the court verifies that the terms of the will are followed accurately and that the executor of the will or the trustee distributes the estate in accordance to the wishes of the deceased person.
Although it is a legal procedure, the probate process is not expensive or complicated. However, you may want to consider hiring a probate attorney to make it less challenging.
What Happens in a Probate Case?
The probate process consists of several steps, which are as follows:
- The executor of the estate files a petition with the court;
- If the court finds that there are no objections to the will, then it grants letters testamentary to the executor of the estate;
- The executor of the will pays off the decedent’s debts and sends out notices to all of the heirs;
- A hearing is scheduled to determine the validity of the will;
- If necessary, the case goes to trial;
- The estate is distributed to all of its heirs.
When Does the Probate Process Start?
In most cases, the probate process is necessary when someone dies and leaves behind a last will, a testament, or a trust. However, it starts only after the executor of the will presents the will at a probate court located in the area where the decedent lived or owned property.
What Are Letters Testamentary? What Can They Be Used For?
Letters testamentary are documents that grant someone authority to handle someone’s estate. In other words, they give someone permission to perform all actions related to handling an estate, including distributing it, paying debts, etc.
Usually, letters testamentary are given to the executor of the will who has to take care of the decedent’s last wishes. Depending on the court and your situation, it can take from a few weeks to a few months to obtain them.
Who Is an Heir? What Are Their Rights?
An heir is someone who is legally entitled to all or part of an estate after someone dies. Since people usually leave behind assets like real estate, personal property, bank accounts, etc., someone has to inherit them, and this person is called an heir. If your relative dies and you inherit a part of their estate, an executor of the will should inform you about that via mail or in person.
Heirs do not have any ownership rights over an estate until after it has been distributed. Only when the probate process is over, they become full owners of their share of the estate.
When Should an Estate Be Distributed After Someone Dies? What Happens if it is Not Distributed?
An estate should be distributed only after the executor of the will receives the letters testamentary and pays off all the debts. Usually, this process takes from a few months to few years, depending on your situation and your local legislation. Several factors, such as conducting an inventory, paying taxes, and the complexity of the estate, impact the process.
What Does It Mean to Execute a Last Will? Who Can Be an Executor?
Executing a last will means signing your will before two witnesses and sending it to the probate court for admission. Although executing a last will does not require any special education or training, you may fill in some official paperwork.
Anyone who is 18 or older can become an executor of the will, even if they are named as beneficiaries. Usually, people choose their partners, children, or relatives to become executors of their will, but you are allowed to choose a professional – for example, a solicitor – for that position. You can also name two executors – for example, your family member and a person with specialist knowledge.
If you are currently going through the probate process for your loved one’s estate, we hope that this article was helpful. From learning how the procedure works to understanding what an executor is and when the estate should be distributed, you now know all that you need.
Hopefully, this information will make the process easier for you. However, if you need help or if you want to learn more about probate, don’t hesitate to contact a professional.
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