It is difficult to contemplate the end of life for our loved ones. Whether it is your aging parents, a close friend, or a sibling, it is emotionally trying to think about life after they pass away. Even if it is difficult, it is important to plan for the future, which necessarily includes an estate plan. An estate plan allows you to dictate the distribution of your assets to help provide for your friends and family after you pass away. When making your plan, you should consider the practical steps and logistics that must be taken to distribute your estate. Probate is one of the most crucial processes for you to understand.
Probate is the process by which your debts will be paid and assets distributed following your death. Your personal representative (also sometimes known as an executor) will be responsible for gathering all of your assets at the beginning of your case. However, before your personal representative will distribute those assets to the people named in your will, it is necessary for your personal representative to provide official notice to your creditors. Your creditors will have the chance to file a claim of debt against your estate. After the deadline for making a claim has passed, the debts will be paid in a particular order of priority. When the debts of allowable claims have all been paid, only then can the personal representative begin the process of distributing the assets pursuant to the last will and testament or the laws of intestacy if there is no will.
How long the process is likely to take depends on a wide variety of issues. Typically the process will take at least six months, but it could take years. At almost every step in the process, it is possible or a creditor, potential beneficiary, or other involved individuals to bring a motion to contest the actions of the personal representative. These disputes can last for months or longer. For example, if a potential beneficiary of the estate files a contest to the will due to a claim of incapacity at the time the will was made, it will be necessary to litigate the issues before the assets can be distributed.
We have extensive experience assisting our clients will all types of estate planning issues at every stage. Call us today at (320) 299-4249 and schedule a consultation.