Probate: Don’t Let It Be a Nightmare

By
The Tabuchi Law Team
November 6, 2023
5
min read
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Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person's estate. It involves identifying and gathering the deceased person's assets, paying their debts, and distributing their remaining assets to their beneficiaries.

Probate can be a complex and time-consuming process. Still, it is crucial to ensure that the deceased person's wishes are carried out and their assets are distributed according to law.

Why is it important to know the facts about probate?

Knowing the facts about probate can help you avoid common mistakes, make informed decisions about your estate planning, and prepare for the probate process if necessary.

Here are some critical facts about probate:

  • Probate is not required in all cases. For example, suppose the deceased person had a small estate or had specific assets exempt from probate. In that case, probate may not be necessary.
  • Probate can be a time-consuming process. It can take several months or even years to complete the probate process, depending on the complexity of the estate.
  • Probate can be expensive. Several costs are associated with probate, such as court fees, executor fees, and legal fees.
  • Probate can be stressful. Dealing with the probate process can be stressful for both the executor and the beneficiaries.

What happens if you don't have probate?

If you do not have probate, the deceased person's assets may not be distributed according to their wishes. Additionally, it may be difficult for the beneficiaries to access the deceased person's assets.

Here are some of the problems that can occur if you do not have probate:

  • The deceased person's assets may be frozen until probate is granted.
  • The beneficiaries may be unable to access the deceased person's bank accounts or other financial accounts.
  • The beneficiaries may have to pay taxes on the deceased person's assets even if they have not yet received them.
  • The beneficiaries may have to go through a court process to transfer ownership of the deceased person's assets.

What are the steps in the probate process?

The probate process steps vary depending on the complexity of the estate. However, the general steps are as follows:

  1. File an application for probate with the court.
  2. Pay the probate court fees.
  3. Serve notice of the probate application on the deceased person's beneficiaries and creditors.
  4. Publish a notice of the probate application in a newspaper.
  5. Gather all of the deceased person's assets and pay their debts.
  6. Prepare a final accounting of the deceased person's estate.
  7. Distribute the deceased person's remaining assets to their beneficiaries.

How can you avoid probate?

There are several ways to avoid probate, such as:

  • Creating a living trust. A living trust is a legal document that allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to a trustee during your lifetime. The trustee will then manage your assets and distribute them to your beneficiaries according to your instructions after your death.
  • Using joint tenancy or tenancy in common ownership. Joint tenancy and tenancy in common ownership are types of ownership that allow you to share ownership of assets with another person. When one owner dies, their share of the assets automatically transfers to the surviving owners.
  • Purchasing assets that are exempt from probate. Some assets, such as life insurance policies and registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs), are exempt from probate. This means they can be transferred directly to your beneficiaries without going through probate.

What happens if you are the executor of an estate after death?

Suppose you are the executor of an estate. In that case, there are several things you need to do after the deceased person's death, including:

  • Notifying the deceased person's beneficiaries and creditors.
  • Gathering all of the deceased person's assets and paying their debts.
  • Preparing a final accounting of the deceased person's estate.
  • Distributing the deceased person's remaining assets to their beneficiaries.

Why is it essential to seek expert advice?

It is vital to seek expert advice from a lawyer if you are dealing with probate. A lawyer can help you to understand the probate process, avoid common mistakes, and protect your interests.

Probate can be daunting and overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. By understanding the basics of probate and seeking expert advice, you can navigate the process smoothly and efficiently.

Here's a tip: think of probate as a journey. It's not a destination. It's a process with a beginning and an end, and there will be bumps along the way. But by staying organized and taking things one step at a time, you can make it to the other side.

Procrastination is the enemy of probate

One of the biggest mistakes people make when dealing with probate is procrastinating. Suppose you're named as the executor of an estate. In that case, getting started on the probate process as soon as possible is essential. The longer you wait, the more complicated and time-consuming the process.

Here's a tip: don't wait until the last minute to start dealing with probate. Get a jumpstart on the process by gathering the deceased person's important documents, such as their will, death certificate, and financial statements.

Communicate with the beneficiaries

It's essential to keep the beneficiaries informed throughout the probate process. Let them know what's going on and when they can expect to receive their inheritance. This will help to reduce stress and anxiety for everyone involved.

Here's a tip: schedule a meeting with the beneficiaries early on in the probate process to discuss the process and answer any questions they may have.

Be organized

Probate can be a complex process with a lot of moving parts. It's crucial to stay organized and to keep track of all of the paperwork. This will help you stay on top of things and avoid making mistakes.

Here's a tip: create a probate binder or file to store the essential documents. This will make it easy to find the information you need when you need it.

Don't be afraid to ask for help

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the probate process, don't hesitate to seek expert advice from a lawyer. A lawyer can help you to understand the process, avoid common mistakes, and represent your interests.

Here's a tip: hire a lawyer who specializes in probate law. They will have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate the probate process smoothly and efficiently.

Conclusion

Probate can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it doesn't have to be. With the right help, you can navigate the probate process smoothly and efficiently.

At Tabuchi Law, we have the knowledge and experience to help you with all aspects of probate, including:

  • Filing the necessary paperwork
  • Gathering the deceased person's assets
  • Paying their debts
  • Distributing their remaining assets to their beneficiaries

We understand that probate can be a difficult time, and we are here to support you every step of the way. 

 

Contact Tabuchi Law today for a free consultation on your probate matter. 

We can help you understand the probate process, avoid common mistakes, and protect your interests.

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