Probate is typically associated with turmoil for most. A loved one has just passed away, so everyone close to that person is already feeling a huge amount of emotional stress. Then you throw in things like probate straight afterwords, and things can get very complicated, and even more stressful, especially if that person hasn’t written up a will. Currently, according to the Bureau of Justice, only 40% of Americans have completed wills. Luckily, 72% of people with children have a will written up, but that still makes for over a quarter of the population that doesn’t have a will. The entire probate process is very difficult to understand, which is why we’ve compiled this post to help anyone understand probate, and learn how to make the process as painless as possible.
So What is Probate?
In the very core of things, probate is the process that happens after one has died to decide what to do with the legal and financial matters of the deceased. Essentially, it’s figuring out to do with that persons’s debt (if there is any), as well as their remaining monetary assets. This includes a home, any physical objects that have a worthwhile value, and any money that person has saved up. Deciding this is very easy, and takes a short amount of time as long as the deceased had a will drawn up before they passed away. If they didn’t have one drawn up, things get very tricky.
So What Happens if They Had a Will?
If they had a will drawn up it will go to court and things will be divied up like intended. Nothing will change, and everything will go as directed by the deceased. The court will usually charge a small fee to do so, but the monetary assets will be sent out quickly and easily, and nobody will have to wait long. It’s a very simple process as long as a will is in place. But when there is no will, things get very tricky, which we’ll explain now.
What Happens if They Didn’t Have a Will?
Although many legal procedures have become much easier to sort out in the past few decades, the probate process still remains a very timely and difficult process. One of the main reasons why this process is so difficult is the amount of steps involved, and the time involved. The average time involved to sort out a case like this is between one and two years. This is due to many steps being involved.
1) Discovering what the deceased owned:
You have to see what property the deceased owned to determine their value. After this, the property has to be appraised and they need to value it.
2) Paying off all debts:
If the person had any outstanding debt, it needs to be paid before any sort of money is handed out to anyone. This includes taxes as well. All debt will be cleared of the individual before anyone receives anything through the probate process.
3) Distributing the remaining assets:
Now that they have properly appraised everything and paid off all debts, they can start handing things out. Will this process be fair? No. Will things be even? Definitely not. The court will hand things out how they feel, as there’s nothing left by the deceased to show how they want things to be handed out.
In addition to waiting a very lengthy time, the court will also take a huge amount of money for this process. They have to go through a ton of work for it, so they take a lot. All in all, if you want to avoid the antagonizing probate process, make sure you have a will drafted up early, and keep it accurate to how you want to divy things up. Nobody likes getting a will drafted, but it’s something everyone should go through if they want things to run smoothly after they pass away.