After the death of a loved one, one of the last things you probably want to do is navigate the legal system. Unfortunately, you will have to do this if your loved one's will goes through probate, which most do.
Probate is the process of validating a will and gathering all the information pertinent to the distribution of an estate. Depending on various factors, probate can be fairly simple and straightforward, or it can be lengthy and confusing.
Some factors that can make probate more difficult include:
- Significant assets
- Complex assets
- Challenges over the validity of the will
- Difficulty tracking down heirs
- Questions over property ownership
Factors that might make probate a little easier include:
- A clear, updated will
- Fewer assets to distribute, which could make an estate eligible for expedited probate
- Establishment of trusts, which can avoid probate altogether
- Having contact information, passwords and other personal information readily available
- Few or no odd distribution requests
As you can see, the person creating a will can take many steps to ensuring the probate process goes more quickly and smoothly. Loved ones typically have less power to do so, outside of deciding whether to challenge a will or not.
Whether probate is expected to be lengthy or expedited, it can be crucial for the people involved to have legal support, from the person creating the will to the loved ones who receive (or should receive) a portion of an estate. Probate is a legal process, and there could be a lot on the line including assets, a loved one's wishes and even personal relationships.