Probate is a very big factor to consider when you are planning your estate. There are potentially numerous different parties that would have an interest in your estate. For this reason, your estate must be probated when you use a last will to arrange for the distribution of your personally owned property.
The process of probate is in place to allow the business of the estate to be conducted before the inheritances are distributed to the heirs. Final debts must be paid during probate, including any taxes that may be due. An inventory of all of the probate property must be conducted. This can be very tedious and time-consuming.
Property appraisals may be necessary, and liquidation can come next. Ultimately, the heirs to the estate will receive what they are entitled to according to the terms of the last will.
The person who takes care of all of this business is the executor of the estate. The probate court supervises the administration. If someone wanted to challenge the will they could present an argument before the probate court. They do not need to start a separate action to challenge the will.
Once the estate has been probated and closed the heirs can finally receive their inheritances. However, this can take time. Exactly how long will depend on the specific circumstances in question.
If there is in fact a challenge the matter can be stalled for a very long time. It took about 15 years for the highly publicized case of Anna Nicole Smith versus the Marshall family to be decided. Both original litigants had passed away by the time the final decision was handed down by the Supreme Court.
Admittedly, this is a rare case, but even routine cases can take months. It is not always easy to immediately liquidate property and sort out all claims that may be made by interested parties.
Because of some of the pitfalls that go along with the process many people decide to implement probate avoidance strategies. It is possible to arrange for asset transfers to your loved ones outside of probate. When you do so you facilitate faster and more efficient distributions after you pass away.
There are other positive consequences that can come about when you utilize more advanced estate planning strategies that enable probate avoidance.
Probate does provide structure and certain protections. It is not inherently negative. The point is that you do have options.
Whether you ultimately decide to implement probate avoidance strategies or not, you should certainly have an understanding of the process when you’re planning your estate. We have assembled a rather extensive library of free special reports on virtually every aspect of estate planning and elder law. Our report on probate is available to you right now absolutely free of charge. If you would like to access this valuable report, click this link and follow the simple instructions: Free New York Probate Report.