What Is Probate And How Could It Affect Me?

Probate is the legal process for distributing property after you pass away. Usually initiated by an executor, probate validates your will and begins the process of distributing your assets. Varying by state, the probate process is often daunting, especially if you do not know what to expect. 

Being aware of what probate is in North Carolina and how it might affect you can make navigating the process easier for all parties. Knowing your rights and responsibilities in accordance with state probate laws can help speed up the process to avoid spending excess time in probate.

How it Works

After you pass away, either the person you appointed in your will or the person appointed by the judge begins the probate process. Papers are filed with the local probate court, and your creditors along with other interested parties are officially notified of your death. 

Probate laws vary from state to state, making it essential to consult with a North Carolina probate attorney when establishing your estate. Not being aware of your state’s probate proceedings can prolong the process and make a stressful time more difficult for everyone.

What Probate Involves

Advance knowledge of what steps are involved in the probate process can assist you when the time comes to have loved ones or a legal representative initiate probate. Typically, probate involves proving the individual is deceased, providing an inventory or list of belongings, having the property appraised as needed, paying debts or taxes, and distributing remaining assets as the will instructs.

The Downsides of Probate

Probate is not without its share of pitfalls. Even with a carefully executed estate, you should be aware of some downsides of probate when planning how to distribute your estate. 

The primary downside is that the probate process is often a prolonged one. The process can be tedious, especially if the will is contested by one or more parties who do not agree with its contents or question the document’s validity. It can also become expensive if the process is prolonged by misunderstandings or arguments. 

How Long Does Probate Take?

The time it takes for the probate process to complete is usually determined by the size of the estate and if the will is contested. If the estate is not contested, then the probate process can usually be resolved in a few months with everyone working together. 

However, probate could take years if the will is contested or the estate is substantial and challenging to manage. Ultimately, the time probate takes is determined by the complexity of the estate itself and those handling its distribution.

Public Proceedings In Probate

Probate is a matter of public record since it is part of the state’s legal proceedings. Anyone who has access to those records can view everything that occurs with your estate. For that reason, some try to circumvent probate in the hopes of keeping their estates private. 

Unfortunately, in many cases, probate is unavoidable and necessary in order to legally distribute property left behind when a loved one passes away. Be prepared to answer questions regarding the estate that may arise when probate is initiated.

How Will Probate Affect Me?

Initially, probate will not affect you, but in the future, it could affect your heirs and those not expressly mentioned in your will who still stand to inherit from your estate. Probate can become a hassle if you have not adequately planned and executed your estate. 

Probate can also prolong the time needed for assets to change hands legally and prevent your heirs from distributing or dissolving your estate. The probate process could significantly impact how your heirs benefit, or fail to benefit, from the estate that they stand to inherit.

Why You Need A Wilmington Probate Attorney

Probate is a time-consuming and confusing process to those unfamiliar with it. When not handled correctly, it could take those who remain years to liquidate or distribute an estate properly. To navigate probate properly and protect the estate as a whole, you need the assistance of a qualified probate attorney. 

David Anderson and his team can help you through each step of probate in North Carolina. We have years of experience helping individuals and families from all backgrounds manage probate. Contact our offices today to set up a time for a consultation so that we can begin providing you with the legal help that you deserve.

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