Remember what they say about death and taxes — how they’re the only two sure things? Whoever “they” are, they’re right. As a probate attorney, I deal on a daily basis with both of those issues through probate court.
Let’s start with a brief definition.
Distribution of your wealth after death
Probate is simply the distribution of your worldly goods upon your death. This includes your cash, real estate, personal goods, investments, insurance benefits and everything else of value that comprises your estate.
The first step is for probate court, through your case’s assignment administrator, to determine what the estate owes in unpaid debts and tax obligations. It’s after this amount has been deducted and properly paid that the estate administrator can turn toward disbursing the remaining funds and property to whom it should legally go.
Issues and challenges
This can be problematic in a number of situations and condition, such as:
- There’s no will, so the administrator must determine who should inherit
- The will is contested, meaning that one or more individuals challenge the validity of the will or the distribution of assets
- The estate is so large or complex that it takes an inordinate amount of time to pay the debts, determine heirs and settle
How to reduce probate challenges
The American Bar Association estimates that a typical probate case can take six to nine months to settle. That timeline can go into the years if there’s no will or the estate is challenged or very complex.
The first step to minimizing probate challenges is to gift your heirs as much as possible while you’re still alive. Also, make sure you have a legally prepared will and testament.
Get in touch with a professional at Blood Law, LLC located in the historic district of Waxhaw, NC today. We will alert you to possible challenges and help you write a will that reflects the way you want your estate to be distributed. With foresight, your estate should settle much sooner than if the issue is ignored.