What Are the Benefits of Probate?
Learn About the Advantages of Probate
It is a commonly held idea that probate is a bad thing and that it is to be avoided at all costs. After all, probate can be a lengthy process, often taking several months or even a full year or longer. It can be expensive in terms of court costs. It is also a matter of public record, meaning that anyone with an interest can find out details about the case.
While these things may be true, they do not necessarily mean that probate is always something that you should be anxious to avoid. There are, in fact, many ways in which probate can actually prove to be beneficial to the heirs of an estate, and when these benefits outweigh the negative aspects, you may actually be glad to have the opportunity to go through the probate process.
Probate Litigation Involving Will Contests
One of the principal benefits of probate is that it provides the heirs, as well as anyone else with an interest in the estate, the chance to file a claim against the estate. Probate litigation generally involves challenging the validity of certain terms of the will or of the entire document. For example, an heir who has been left out of the will or provided with less than what he or she believes is due may allege that the decedent made the will while not of sound mind due to dementia or illness.
Alternatively, the claim may be that another party exercised undue influence or coercion in order to compel the testator to change the will or draft a new will. Probate offers the opportunity to address such issues, and to have disputes resolved by an impartial judge. By doing so, you can settle disagreements over the will with the finality of legally enforceable court orders.
Settling Creditor Claims
Probate also involves the settlement of any claims held by creditors to whom the decedent owed debts. The personal representative of the estate, also known as the executor of the will, is required by law to provide notice of the probate proceeding to any creditors who are known or who can be reasonably ascertained to be owed money. Once this has been done, the creditors are required to file their claims within three months, after which time they will forfeit their right to pursue payment.
It is even possible to challenge the validity of creditors' claims, and when this happens the creditor is required to go to the trouble of filing a separate lawsuit, which many will choose not to do. As soon as the claims have been settled, have been defeated or have expired, the estate will be cleared of any liens or encumbrances.
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