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What happens during probate?

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2023 | Estate Planning |

It’s often commonly believed that once someone passes away their estate is immediately distributed to their heirs. However, unfortunately for beneficiaries looking to receive part of their loved one’s estate, most people have to wait until probate is over.

Probate is the legal process of examining the testator’s will and other legal documents to ensure its validity. However, the probate process doesn’t start until a will is filed with a court. It is often the job of the executor of the estate to submit the will.

The probate process can be complex and confusing. Because of this, many people are left with questions about probate. Here’s what you should understand:

The role of the executor of your estate

As stated above, the executor typically is responsible for submitting a testator’s will to a court, which then begins the probate process. During probate, there are several other matters that must be attended to by the designated executor of the estate.

First, after filing the will and organizing estate documents, the executor is often responsible for notifying family and loved ones of the testator’s passing. This allows the beneficiaries to prepare for or help make arrangements for the testator’s funeral.

Then, the executor should collect the testator’s death certificate to use when claiming benefits and notifying any necessary parties. They also may have to pay taxes, debts, loans and mortgages the testator left behind.

Finally, the executor is responsible for overseeing the distribution of the estate. They’ll have to ensure the estate is in order and all the itemized assets in the will are located.

Ensuring a will is valid

When the executor submits the will to a court, the court’s job is to ensure the will is valid. A valid will, typically, includes a signature from the testator and two witness signatures.

An heir may try to dispute the will during this time if they believe they were excluded or if they have evidence that the testator was influenced or not of sound mind during the signing of their will.

Circumventing probate

Many people don’t want to put their loved ones through probate. As such, people often include trusts in their estate plans. Trusts allow heirs to avoid probate.

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