Reasons Why Families Have To Go Through Probate
When a loved one dies, it may be necessary for the family to go through probate. While probate is often portrayed as a long process that costs a lot of money, it is generally completed in a timely manner and without having to spend a lot of money. But why exactly do some families have to go through this process?
- Probate Verifies the Validity of a Will
To be considered valid, a will must be signed by two witnesses over the age of 18. This is generally true of any codicils or other pages added to the will after it is first written. In most cases, a will must be typed to be considered valid, but a handwritten version may be accepted in certain circumstances. Those who are named heirs in a will or should have been named as an heir will be contacted and given the opportunity to challenge the will if necessary.
- Probate Allows for a Thorough Accounting of an Estate
If a deceased person left a will, the executor named in that will can start inventorying assets and taking care of any outstanding debts. An executor may also be able to put a fair market value on assets for tax purposes. If there is no will, an administrator will be named to handle those duties. Once debt and tax matters are taken care of, remaining assets can then be handed down to beneficiaries.
- Probate Provides an Orderly Forum for Resolving Disputes
The death of a loved one can be an especially emotional event. It can be easy to get into shouting matches or otherwise handle disputes with family members in a less than calm manner. The probate process allows those who have questions or issues with any part of a will to address them formally with the court. A judge may decide to make a ruling on his or her own, ask that an individual reconsider his or her challenge or have the matter resolved through mediation.
- Probate Allows for the Timely Transfer of Assets
Whether a person has a will or not, the ability to go through probate means that family members and others get their inheritance in a timely manner. If a person has been divorced or has a complex family situation, it may not always be clear who should receive an asset. Divorce lawyers often aim to separate a couple’s assets for this reason, but in some cases it is not easy to do so. Probate allows a judge to use state law to make sure that whoever has the strongest claim or who may benefit the most from an asset is the one who gets it.
- Creditors Have a Contact Person
When a person dies, it may be harder for a creditor to collect on that debt if an estate didn’t go through probate. Since it does, creditors can talk to the executor of the estate lawyer such as the Estate Planning Attorney locals trust to ensure that they get what they are owed. An executor may also be able to close credit accounts as part of the probate process after a person dies.
As a general rule, probate provides an orderly way to settle a person’s affairs. The executor may be able to work with the court to properly file income taxes, settle debts and ensure that disputes related to property or other matters are resolved properly and in a timely manner.
Thanks to authors at Estate Planning Attorneys for their insight into Estate and Probate Law.