What Is Probate And How Will It Affect Your Estate
It’s common for people to accumulate wealth in the course of their lifetime. Through hard work and proper financial management, you can obtain personal belongings, bank accounts, land, real estate properties, various types of investments, furnishings, and even a considerable number of collectibles.
While you can’t take them all with you when you die, drafting a will can ensure that they are passed on to loved ones who will surely benefit from such inheritance. However, your intended beneficiaries may have to wait for some time as your will and your properties pass through the probate process.
Are you curious about how it works and its significance to your estate? Read on to learn its importance in ensuring your will is valid and how it can affect all you intend to pass on to your loved ones.
What is Probate?
When a person dies, their properties are frozen, and no one can access them without probate. It’s the legal process that validates a deceased person’s will and grants authority to the executor to carry out wishes outlined in the will.
The Supreme Court registrar issues a ‘grant of probate’ to certify that the will, whether made online at Willed or with the person’s handwriting, is lawfully binding. The probate process allows your assets’ efficient administration to pay creditors and estate taxes and distribute what’s left to beneficiaries.
How Does It Affect My Estate?
The probate process affects your estate in several ways: beginning with the named executor, access to assets, and eventual distribution. It’s essential to understand its impact on your estate while you are still able, so you can anticipate situations that may delay or complicate the process.
- Recognizes the Executor
Usually, the executor has to file a grant within a few days after death. When approved, a grant of probate recognizes the executor named in the will. It allows the person to perform various duties according to the deceased’s wishes and in compliance with existing laws. It expects the executor to locate and organize the deceased estate documents, assist family members in claiming government benefits, perform asset inventory, and manage them.
- Provides Access to Assets
Once the executor obtains the grant, they can request financial institutions, such as banks or trading platforms, to unfreeze assets and release funds under their name. The grant also applies to properties solely owned by the deceased or real properties with a common tenancy status. Insurance claims with higher premiums may also require a grant of probate for disbursement.
- Allows Sale or Transfer
Before an executor can distribute the deceased assets, they must first determine if the estate’s value is enough to settle debts left by the deceased and pay estate taxes. If not, the grant of probate allows for real property sale or other assets to fulfill these obligations.
Aside from this, the grant also allows for the transfer of land and real estate properties, such as heritage-listed homes, shares, and other investments to pass to intended heirs.
Issues During the Probate Process
The probate process needs to start immediately. If it’s filed six months after or longer, it requires an affidavit from the executor stating the delay’s reason. Depending on the state where it is filed, it may even require an additional Affidavit of Delay made by an attorney.
While it usually approved within two weeks, the grant can be delayed if there are issues with the will, such as:
- Lacking witnesses
- It does not conform to legal requirements
- The original is unavailable
- Someone contests the will
- There’s a need to file separate probates when the deceased has other properties in more than one state
While there are remedies to the situations mentioned above, they can take considerable time to resolve. This can result in restrained finances for the surviving family and may even cause tensions when contested.
Individuals must ensure their wills are up-to-date and legally binding to prevent delays in the probate process. It’s likewise essential to keep the will safe and inform executors or trusted family members of its whereabouts to eliminate complications to the probate process.
It’s essential to understand the probate process so that individuals can anticipate any issues that may hinder their assets’ distribution if they pass on. It highlights the need for a will to be legally binding and to ensure that it’s updated and protected until necessary.
The grant issued by the court affects a deceased estate in several ways. For example, it gives the executor authority, ensures allocation to heirs, and allows for the sale or transfer of properties to fund debt and estate tax payments.