When a person passes away with or without a will, it won't be long before their estate goes through the probate process. While this is common, it doesn't mean that it always goes smoothly.
If you find yourself involved in the probate process, such as if you were named the executor of a will, it's important to have a basic understanding of what to expect. This can help you remain organized while making better decisions along the way.
As an executor, here are three things to keep in mind:
- You start the process: You're responsible for initiating probate by presenting the will at the appropriate probate court (based on where the person was living when they passed). At that point, you can take direction from the court in regard to what they require.
- Don't make rash decisions: It's easy to jump the gun, such as by prematurely distributing property to heirs or paying debts and taxes. There's time for this in the future, so don't get ahead of yourself.
- Remain patient: The time it takes to complete probate depends on many factors, including the size of the estate, the amount of debt, the number of heirs and whether anyone contests the will. While it typically takes two years from the time of death, it can unfold faster or slower based on these details.
It doesn't matter if you're creating an estate plan or find yourself the executor of a will, knowing the ins and outs of the probate process is important. This can help you make informed decisions, avoid mistakes and hopefully save both time and money.