The Role Of Probate After A Person Passes Away

Probate is a complicated legal process after a person passes away. While many may believe they can avoid probate altogether, this is only sometimes the case. After a person has died, the probate process is necessary for validating the will and ensuring that all debts and taxes owed by the estate have been paid. Many people fear probate because it can sometimes be highly litigious and costly. However, as a probate lawyer residents recommend from Carpenter & Lewis PLLC will share, the process does not have to be as feared as many often are led to believe. While there are several reasons to develop plans that avoid probate or at least mitigate the assets that pass through probate, one of the primary reasons to have a clear plan is to help reduce the probability that familial conflict will play a role in the process after a person has died.

The Probate Process

Probate is the legal process that typically occurs after a person has passed away to validate the will, officially appoint the estate administrator, ensure debts and taxes are paid and distribute property. This process is often required of all estates after a person has passed away, regardless of whether they have a will or estate plan. However, the number of assets that will pass through probate largely depends upon the planning that took place prior and the number of assets that a decedent had. Many people wish to avoid this process, but it’s not something that should be feared, especially when a person has put forth the appropriate planning. Often the probate process is initiated when the appointed estate administrator files a petition to open the estate and provides notice to all creditors.

Reasons To Avoid Probate

As mentioned, many people are concerned about the probate process, and when the proper planning has yet to take place ahead of time, they have a good reason for this. While it can be challenging to avoid probate entirely, it’s possible to reduce the number of assets that must pass through probate court. There are several reasons a testator should develop clear plans before their passing for probate purposes, including:

  • To protect the estate’s assets from creditors
  • To reduce the amount of taxes that will need to be paid
  • To ensure a private process
  • To minimize conflict within the family
  • To save on potential legal fees
  • To avoid common disputes

While probate can result in several challenges, it may be possible to move through the process with ease. As a result, the benefits and peace of mind a family will experience can be immeasurable.

Familial Conflict 

When someone has died, there are two situations that the estate executor and families may contend with. They may be involved in a situation where their loved one has passed away without a will, or the person may have died intestate (without a will). Familial conflict is possible regardless of whether a person has a will in place or not. While having a will or estate plan may undoubtedly reduce this risk, it’s still possible for serious problems to follow in the wake of a person’s passing. In some cases, people may come forward disputing the will’s validity, and others may argue over how assets have been distributed. Because of this, developing a will requires that the testator have clear conversations ahead of time to ensure that all understand the testator’s wishes. As a result, it may be possible to avoid conflict and move through the process of resolving the estate with ease.

Losing a loved one is always deeply emotional and challenging, regardless of a person’s age or the terms of their passing. Without a will or estate plan, someone’s passing can be highly complicated, and unfortunately, several complications can occur. The best way for a person to secure their lasting wishes, reduce conflict and avoid the complexities that may arise through probate is by developing a clear and well thought out estate plan.

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