Upon your death, your will—which you likely spent years creating—goes through probate, which is a court-ordered procedure that divides all the assets and distributes them to the proper inheritors. However, if you don’t have a completed will or living trust, the procedure may be longer. Here’s a complete overview of what to know about the probate process.
First Step: Filing
When writing your will, you’ll appoint an executor for your estate. Upon your passing, the executor will petition a probate court to probate the will. On the other hand, if you don’t possess a will or living trust fund, one can submit a petition requesting the administration of your estate. Whether you have a trust or a will, all inheritors will receive a notice from the probate court.
Second Step: Looking Over Assets and Debts
A judge will then look through all your debts and assets. Some examples involve real estate, cash, bank information, pets, custody of children, and investments. However, if you have assets in a trust, they don’t go through probate—they can go straight to the successors. Also, all creditors receive notice about the lawful processing of your estate through probate court.
Third Step: Debt Payments
The first thing that the probate court will satisfy is the debts you owe. So if your living descendants agree to take over a debt upon your passing, they can contact the creditor about the next phase of payments. Additionally, if there’s not enough money to pay outstanding debts, the executor of your will can sell off assets to pay off the debt.
Fourth Step: Distribution
The final step is the distribution of whatever remains from the estate. After everything has been paid off, your heirs will receive their parts of your estate.
While discussing the overview of what to know about the probate process, we must mention the time it takes to complete the probate period. In many cases, after one passes, the probate court hearings and appeals can take anywhere from two months to a year or more. Keep in mind, the best process in probate court requires immense attention to detail and different methods to confirm the accuracy of the estate.
As you gho through the steps of the probate process, reach out to Vancouver Wills and Trusts for more information. Contact us here, and we can help make the process make sense. If you don’t have a will yourself, you can speak with a probate and estate attorney who can discuss the next steps with you.