Frequently Asked Questions:
Do all wills go to probate?
No, not all wills need to go through probate. The only wills that need to go through probate are wills that list assets which are solely in the name of the testator. Any assets that are jointly owned or have direct beneficiaries, such as pensions and retirement accounts, can bypass probate.
The smaller the estate is (meaning the fewer assets it has that do need to go through probate), the higher the likelihood of being able to go through an expedited probate or skipping it entirely.
What happens if I don't apply for probate?
If you don’t apply for probate, then the deceased’s estate doesn’t get settled and heirs do not receive their inheritance. It also means that beneficiaries do not have legal claims to assets that were supposed to be transferred to them in accordance with the deceased’s wishes.
Furthermore, if you as the named executor do not file for probate, heirs to the estate could claim that you’re not fulfilling your duties or even standing in the way of the will’s directions and take legal action against you. Not applying for probate creates confusion and uncertainty over who now has ownership over the deceased’s assets, and leaves you vulnerable to potential lawsuits.
How quickly must probate be filed?
While different counties and states may have slightly different regulations, the general rule is that the executor usually has 30 days after the testator’s date of death to submit the will and the death certificate to the relevant court. Some places don’t even have any specific deadlines at all.
However, when it comes to applying for probate, the adage “the sooner the better” certainly applies. The sooner you open probate proceedings, the quicker you’ll be able to settle the estate and distribute the inheritance. Dragging out probate will only cause unnecessary stress for you: Beneficiaries may start getting frustrated, and you’ll be tasked with maintaining assets and real estate as well as keeping up with bills and taxes until the estate is settled. It’s therefore in everyone’s best interest to file probate as quickly as possible.
If you’re currently struggling with applying for probate or feel overwhelmed by all the paperwork you have to deal with, you’re not alone. At ClearEstate, our team of experienced estate professionals will guide you through every step of the probate process, giving you the tools you need to navigate this journey. Get in touch for a free consultation and find out how we can help.