If you equate estate planning to the creation of a last will you should certainly know a bit about the process of probate. We will provide a brief overview in this post.
Let’s say that you create a last will. What happens after you die? Presuming you named an executor when you created the document and this individual is aware of his or her appointment your executor would admit the will to probate.
Probate is a legal process that takes place under the supervision of the Surrogate’s Court here in the state of New York. The heirs to the estate do not immediately receive their inheritances. The court must determine the validity of the last will and allow for creditors to come forward seeking satisfaction from the estate.
A last will can be deemed invalid based on several different grounds, including improper execution, undue coercion, and mental incompetence. If an interested party wanted to challenge the validity of the last will he or she could present arguments during the probate process.
At first glance there would not appear to be anything unduly difficult about the process of probate. However, there are those who seek to avoid probate because it does create some less than ideal circumstances for the heirs to the estate.
Let’s say that you have family members who are going to feel a financial void after you pass away. You may feel comfortable in spite of this because you know that you have provided for these individuals in your last will. They can use these resources, and everything will be fine.
It is not as simple as this because the probate process is a factor. Probate can be quite time-consuming, with even routine cases taking a number of months. If someone wanted to challenge the validity of the will, or if there were some other complicated circumstances, it could actually take over a year or even multiple years for the estate to be probated and closed.
This could cause genuine hardship for some family members, and short of this it could simply be a major inconvenience.
A great many costs can accumulate during the probate process as well, and this is another factor to take into consideration. There are court costs, and the executor or executrix must be paid. Various different professionals may be brought in by the executor, including an accountant and a probate attorney. These resources are very useful and they can facilitate a smooth passage through probate. However, they are certainly going to charge for their time and expertise.
When you understand the expenses that can be incurred during the process and the time lag involved you may want to explore probate avoidance strategies. They do indeed exist, and you can discuss your options with a licensed New York estate planning lawyer.