If you’ve written up a will for yourself, you’ve planned for your future. You’ve accepted that you won’t be around forever, and you’ve acknowledged that your family and friends will need some instructions when it comes to all the assets you’re leaving behind. Your estate is your last legacy, and how your estate is divided amongst your loved ones will affect how they remember you after your death.
When it comes to your own estate, probate doesn’t sound like that big a deal. After all, you won’t be dealing with it. However, as a Sacramento estate planning lawyer from a firm like Yee Law Group, P.C. can explain, your will is as much for your family and friends as it is for you – and if you want to make life a little easier for the people you’ve left behind, you’ll read a little more about probate.
What Is Probate?
No matter how small your pool of assets might be, you still have an estate. And upon your death, your assets will be divided across all of your beneficiaries. However, this doesn’t mean that those assets just magically appear on the doorstep of the intended recipients. There is a legal process that needs to be completed before your loved ones see a single cent of what you’ve left behind for them, and that process is known as probate.
Probate is a challenging and frustrating process, but unfortunately, there’s not many ways around it. If you’ve been named as a beneficiary in someone else’s will, you’ll probably see firsthand how much drama probate can cause. Despite being related, family has a funny way of fighting with each other over what’s left over in an inheritance, and things can get really ugly, really quick.
One of the main issues people have with probate is how long it takes. You might be listed as a beneficiary on the will, but odds are you’ll have to wait months before you see whatever’s been left over for you. Probate takes a long time because there are many steps, and at every step there’s an opportunity for legal challenges and debate.
Probate all starts with authentication of the will. Because a will is a legal document, it’s in everyone’s best interest to ensure that it’s all legitimate. Of course, other beneficiaries – or estranged family members – may feel it’s in their best interest to dispute the authenticity of the will, therefore delaying the entire process even more. An executor is typically named in a will to handle the probate process, and if they fail to do their job or the family and friends of the decedent disagree with the choice of executor, this appointment can be disputed as well.
After an executor notifies the beneficiaries of the decedent’s death, they’ll have to track down the assets listed in the will. They’ll have to get those assets valued by a third party (which costs money) and they’ll have to pay off any creditors who were waiting for the decedent to pay them off before they died. All the necessary fees and taxes need to be paid before the beneficiaries receive their share of the estate, and this comes after a lengthy legal process with plenty of opportunity for dispute.
Probate Is Difficult. Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney Is Easy.
Fortunately, if you want to take steps to make your passing a little easier for your family and friends, you can contact an estate planning lawyer. The right estate planning attorney can help you create a bulletproof will, and can also help you make a living trust if you’d like to protect your loved ones from probate altogether. It’s never too soon to start planning your future the right way. Get in touch with an estate planning lawyer today.