As a family member, your loved one may have recently passed away and now his or her estate must be settled. You may have heard the term probate being used, and have no idea what that means or what is to come next. An estate lawyer can meet with you to go over what the term probate is all about, and answer any questions you may have along the way. In general, the intention of probate is to verify a deceased person’s will is valid, pay off any remaining debts or expenses, and transfer assets to designated beneficiaries as listed in the will, among other things.
Here in this article, we have delved into further detail about probate, in hopes you gain a better overall understanding about this legal process.
Proving the Will is Valid
In order to carry on the wishes as described within the will, it must be proven valid within probate court by a judge. What is usually required is one of the following pieces of evidence:
- A court testimony from a witness of the will,
- A sworn & signed statement from a witness of the will, or
- A notarized statement from a witness of the will as it was being authenticated (may also be referred to as a “self-proving affidavit”)
Will Executor Responsibilities
The will executor is the person who has been chosen and approved by the court to handle the decedent’s estate and will. He or she is to represent the estate throughout the entire process of probate. Examples of duties he or she may have to fulfill can include:
- Meeting with beneficiaries, heirs or other family members about estate
- Requesting an appraisal of assets (artwork, property, collections)
- Selling property of the estate in order to help pay off outstanding debts
- Attending hearings regarding decedent’s estate & will
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries as listed in decedent’s will
How Long Probate Lasts
Depending on how complex things get, this process can take anywhere from a few months up to a year, or more. What may contribute to the process taking longer is if a family member files a dispute regarding the deceased person’s will. Another reason is if the probate paperwork was not submitted correctly or entirely, the decedent’s estate could get tied up within the court system. While legal representation is not required, it is highly recommended that you seek help from an attorney for advice on how to keep things moving forward without delay.