What is Probate?
It’s Peace of Mind
Many people view Probate as a challenging, time-consuming, often bewildering process – but a Probate court application is simply the legal means to prove or interpret a testamentary document (Will), especially where there is some lack of clarity or confusion about any provision within the Will. The named Personal Representative in a Will is appointed to transfer the estate’s property to the identified beneficiaries in the Will. Thus, Probate involves proving that the Will is valid, and determining the legal heirs to the estate and how they should inherit under the Will. Probate provides peace of mind to all interested parties, that the intent and instructions of the Will shall be carried out.
It’s Sometimes Complex
There are some cases where the Probate process can be very simple – perhaps even avoidable – as in the case where a surviving spouse jointly owns all the assets of the estate. However, in other cases, the process can be lengthy and often expensive, particular if the deceased left no Will, or if minor children were not completely provided for in an existing Will.
Even in the case of an existing Will, the assets of the estate can potentially be held for many months, and in some cases up to a year or more, depending on the complexity of the estate and the requirements involved with third-party interests.
One of the most time-consuming things for a Personal Representative is the fact that a lot of information needs to be collected at the beginning of the process, before the court can even review the application. With a complicated estate, this process alone can take months. Another reason for the delay is that the Personal Representative (or court appointed lawyer) must resolve disputes and conflict among the interested family members – a sometimes lengthy and expensive process.
Starting the Probate Process
To begin the process, the deceased’s Personal Representative would apply to the Probate court (also known as a “surrogate court”), by completing a number of Probate forms and by providing the required supporting documents.
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