The probate system is an extension of how the law deals with estates. Many estates go through the probate process, even if it's just to have a judge sign off on everything before the estate moves on.
Probate is sometimes given a bad name by people who feel shorted by the system. However, it exists to protect your rights. Here is a look at how that works and why you should take advantage of the system if you have any concerns.
Why Does Probate Exist?
No matter how well an estate planning lawyer tries to lay things out perfectly for a client, there is always a risk that something will come up after the client passes. For example, the grantor of the estate might have sold a big asset, such as a house, before they died. This can lead to an inconsistency between the will and what the estate is supposed to distribute. If there is trouble resolving the conflict, it might be time to hire a probate lawyer and bring the issue to the attention of a judge.
Protecting the Deceased's Rights, Too
Probate also exists to address problems with undue influence or fraud. Especially when aging people are having mental or emotional issues, there may be folks around them who try to take advantage of the situation. For example, someone might marry a person who seems to be close to death with the intent of rewriting their will to favor themselves.
If you're worried that such conduct occurred, you'll probably want to hire a probate attorney. You can then bring inconsistencies with the new will to the court's attention. A judge can then address questions about whether the grantor was mentally fit to make changes to the will. They also can look at how parties might have unduly pressured the granter into making changes.
Resolving Ambiguities and Filling in Gaps
Particularly if the deceased didn't have the benefit of working with an estate planning attorney, there may be ambiguities in a will. For example, the wording of the will may not clarify who gets claim to a house. The probate court will review the governing documents of the estate and determine how to best fulfill the decedent's wishes.
Gaps can also appear just because life happens. A beneficiary might have died since the will was written, for example. If they died without heirs, then the court may have to decide how to dispose of the portion of the assets meant for them.Share
26 February 2021
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