The entire process of administering a person’s estate is known as probate. It involves validating the will and appointing or approving an executor before assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries.
Given its importance, it is necessary to understand the ins and outs of this legal process. Understanding how things work will help you know what to expect. Here is what you need to know.
The probate process in a nutshell
The ball starts rolling when the executor named in the will files a petition with the probate court in the county where the deceased resided. Once the probate court receives and validates the will, the executor will take over as the person in charge of administering the estate.
It is worth noting that the court plays an oversight role in the entire process. The probate court will oversee the process of identifying and valuing the deceased person’s assets, such as real estate, bank accounts, stocks and personal property. The executor will need to provide an inventory of all assets and their values to the court.
Once the assets have been identified and valued, the executor will settle any outstanding debts or taxes the deceased and their estate owes. If there isn’t enough money in the estate to cover these expenses, the executor may need to sell some of the assets to pay them off. The remaining assets will be distributed to the heirs named, bringing an end to the probate process.
How long does probate take?
The duration of probate varies depending on the unique circumstances of each case. You may be looking at several months or even years. Some factors that may affect the duration include the cooperation of the parties involved, the complexity of the estate and whether there is a contest to the will.
The importance of legal representation during probate
If you are a beneficiary of an estate, the stakes are high, and you should not leave anything to chance. A lot can go wrong during probate. For instance, an executor may breach their fiduciary duty and misappropriate estate assets.
It’s wise to understand the importance of having experienced legal counsel during probate to advise you of your rights and help you take appropriate actions if an issue arises.