There are several estate planning tools that allow property to avoid probate, the legal process that administers and settles the estate of a deceased. But are there any advantages to probate, would it actually help an estate?
There are several tasks that take place in probate, such as paying the bills of an estate, notifying creditors, notifying heirs and beneficiaries of the death, as well as passing the title of property. Some of these tasks can benefit certain estates.
1. Validating wills and giving authority.
One task of probate is validating the will of a deceased and giving the estate’s executor, whether or not there was a will, the authority to act on behalf of the estate. It is up to the executor to open a bank account for the estate, pay bills and even file a tax return, and probate gives them the authority to do so.
2. Providing oversight.
Probate is a legal proceeding that takes place in probate court, in New York, it is called Surrogate’s Court. The proceedings are overseen and controlled by a judge. The estate’s executor must prepare an accounting and a report of their actions to the court. This provides an accountability that may be beneficial to some estates.
3. Identifying and paying creditors.
Once notified of the probate, creditors have a window to present claims against the estate. This starts the clock on limiting the time that creditors have to make claims. Creditors who fail to do so within the allowed time may find that their claims are no longer enforceable, meaning normally they cannot pursue claims against the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate.
4. Resolving disputes.
Surrogate’s Court can resolve any disputes involving the decedent’s estate and disposition of its assets.
Of course, besides the advantages of probate, there are several disadvantages, such as the cost and time involved. An estate planning attorney can work with you to provide a comprehensive estate plan that meets your family’s specific needs, whether it is avoiding probate, creating a will, or establishing a living trust.