Probate is the legal process through which a person's assets are distributed after their death. Debts are paid off and the remaining property is dispersed according to the deceased person's will. The court will accommodate their last wishes when possible, defaulting to local laws when no will is present.
What Happens During Probate?
When a will exists and an executor has been named, that person will need to attend the probate proceedings. The deceased's will is validated according to local laws governing the required signatures, witnesses, or notaries. Once the will is deemed valid, the assets in question are identified and inventoried for distribution. Property associated with the will is appraised to determine the value. Once the assets are evaluated and appraised, any outstanding debts are paid before the remaining possessions are distributed.
How Long Does Probate Take?
The probate process varies widely based on many factors. A clear and well-thought out will can make the process relatively quick and simple. However, the absence of a will or any disputes over the terms of the will can drag the process out. Those who have a trust or a combination of a will and trust may make the probate process slightly shorter. Trusts do not require a probate proceeding and those who put most of their assets in a trust typically have shorter probate hearings. The average probate process can take six to nine months, with many factors impacting each individual proceeding.
What Happens When There Isn't a Will?
If no will is present or there are assets that do not have a beneficiary, the court will default to state and local laws to distribute the property. Conflicts can sometimes arise in the absence of a will, with many different loved ones disagreeing over the rightful beneficiary. The judge and lawyers overseeing the hearing will be objective and fair in their rulings as supported by the local laws.
Probate hearings can be simple and straightforward or messy and arduous depending on the parties involved and the presence of a will. Holland Law can help you navigate the probate process or even draft a living will to make the process easier. Give our team at Holland Law a call today to get started.