The Probate Process And How It Affects Your Estate

The Probate Process And How It Affects Your EstateDuring your lifetime, it’s likely that you have worked extremely hard to leave something behind for the people you love. Whether it’s for funeral costs or a nest egg, the last thing you want is to sacrifice any portion of that on administrative processing fees. Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s assets are transferred to their heirs or beneficiaries. It involves proving the validity of the will (if it exists), identifying and gathering assets, paying off any liabilities, and distributing the remainder to the beneficiaries. The probate process can have significant effects on an estate, including distribution delays and expenses, and leaves it vulnerable to potential disputes.


What Happens During Probate?

After death, a person’s next of kin will file a petition with the court where the deceased lived. The petition will request that the court open probate and appoint an executor, if one has not already been named in a will, to manage the estate. The court will notify all interested parties like potential beneficiaries, next of kin, and, unfortunately, creditors. The executor will begin work identifying and gathering all of the assets of the deceased. Depending on the record-keeping habits of the deceased, this process can be extremely time-consuming. All documentation of assets and liabilities are gathered to appraise and potentially liquidate. If the deceased owes taxes or has outstanding debts, the funds will go towards paying that amount. 


If there are any assets left over after debts and taxes have been paid, the remainder can be distributed to the beneficiaries named in the will, or according to the state regulations that dictate the order in which inheritance is distributed, also known as intestacy laws. If there are no disputes, the executor will file the final accounting with the court and request the probate to be closed. After court approval, the process is finally over and the family can hopefully grieve in peace.


Probate Complications

Probate leaves a lot of deeply private information and assets up in the air for an unlimited amount of time. It can take several months to years to wrap up the probate process depending on the complexity of the estate. Disputes among heirs and beneficiaries are also extremely common, even if there is an official will, and little legal recourse. The probate process essentially removes the human-element of the grieving process, and can be a traumatic experience for those that are left to pick up the pieces. The probate process also open up the family to the possibility of public proceedings, meaning that anyone may access information about the assets of the deceased.


Can Probate Be Avoided?

Thankfully, there are many ways to avoid probate. With the right estate planning tools, you have the ability to protect your assets and your family from unforeseen fees, potential liabilities, and give them the peace of mind knowing that your wishes have been met. There is no “one size fits all,” formula to estate planning, so it’s important to work with experienced estate planning professionals to create a comprehensive estate plan that saves you and your family time and money. For a free consultation, contact the firm of Ledwidge & Associates online, or by calling 718-276-6656.

The following two tabs change content below.
The Probate Process And How It Affects Your Estate

Ledwidge & Associates

Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. in New York City has years of experience helping clients create estate plans that fit their needs. We have the experience and resources to handle your critical legal matters with the utmost care and attention to detail.
The Probate Process And How It Affects Your Estate

Latest posts by Ledwidge & Associates (see all)