Probate is particularly complicated when there is no last will and testament.
Settling an estate can take time.
The executor who is named in the will must be approved by the probate court.
When this is done, the executor can inventory and secure assets, notify creditors, pay debts and bills, distribute assets, and file the final tax return.
If the estate is large and complex, the time and cost of settling the estate will be greater.
According to a recent The Huntsville Item article titled “Probating your spouse’s will,” dying without a will further complicates the process for the executor and the beneficiaries.
When someone dies without a legally valid last will and testament in place, the the family of the deceased must petition the probate court to have an “administrator” appointed for the estate.
The mere existence of a last will and testament does not guarantee the estate of the decedent will avoid intestacy.
The last will and testament must be filed with and accepted by the probate court for it to have authority.
In Kansas, that means within six months of the willmaker’s death.
In Missouri, it had better be filed within one year.
An intestate probate will be more expensive and defaults to state laws regarding who inherits.
If you own real estate, it could be divided or sold against your wishes without an estate plan in place.
Inheriting real estate often comes with property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs.
It will benefit those who inherit if you are able to include means of paying these expenses.
Even with a last will and testament, some family situations complicate matters.
If the testator had prior marriages and left a blended family, the public nature of probate proceedings could lead to contesting the last will and testament.
Even if there is no will contest, there may be heated arguments about what to do with inherited property.
Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can simplify probate for your estate.
Reference: The Huntsville Item (Nov. 22, 2020) “Probating your spouse’s will”