Understanding the steps of the probate process
When it comes to deciding on how your assets should be distributed among your loves ones after your demise, writing a will is not sufficient. The will needs to be proved in court in the county where the decedent lived or owned property for validity. Only then does the court give permission to the executor to execute the wishes of the deceased, transferring his/her assets to the beneficiaries.
The judicial process of proving a will in court and its acceptance as a valid public document of the true last testament of the deceased is known as probate. Applying for probate becomes mandatory when the deceased was the sole owner of the estate’s assets, according to probate solicitors at SCL Wills & Probate
Here’s a look at the probate process and the major steps that need to be followed by the executor of a will.
Step 1: File a petition for probate of will to the court
The probate process begins with the executor of the will or a probate attorney acting on behalf of the estate, submitting an official document, called a petition to probate a will, with the local probate court. If the will is determined valid by the court, the legal documents, called either letters testamentary or letters of administration, are provide to the executor, authorising him/her to distribute the assets mentioned in the will to the beneficiaries. When filing a petition, all of the decedent’s heirs and beneficiaries need to be provided the notice of the court hearing. If the heirs or beneficiaries do not agree with the will, this gives them an opportunity to raise their objection, say leading probate lawyers in London.
Step 2: Written notice to all creditors of the estate
Attempts are made to notify creditors of the decedent before the court proceedings begin. If any creditor wishes to make a claim on the assets of the estate, they must do so within a given period of time, which could vary from region to region. The court considers all of the decedent’s probate property, including bonds, stocks and business interests, for this purpose.
Step 3: Payment of all debts and taxes
The court appoints a personal representative to determine which creditor’s claims are legitimate. On finding authentic claims, the court orders for the creditor(s) to be paid, along with the payment of other pending bills, from the estate. To satisfy the decedent’s obligations, the court permits the personal representative to sell estate assets.
Step 4: Transfer of legal title
Before transferring the remaining assets to the beneficiaries, as directed in the decedent’s last will and testament, the court follows a waiting period to allow creditors to file claims against the estate, making sure that all the approved bills and claims are paid.
If you are thinking how much time it takes for the above mentioned proceedings, you should know that on an average, the probate process can take anywhere between six and nine months to be completed. However, any complications, such as the will being contested or the deceased not keeping clear records of all assets, can extend this process considerably.
In the absence of a will, an administration proceeding must be held, and someone, often the spouse or an adult child of the decedent, needs to ask the court to appoint him or her as the administrator of the decedent’s estate. In such a situation, the court is likely to distribute the property equally between the spouse and children.
To avoid complications and save time, it is wise to consult the best probate lawyers in London when the deceased has created a will as well as in situations in which no will has been left behind.
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