There are many things that you will have to deal with when your loved one dies. If he or she has an estate plan, you might have to deal with the probate process. This process is one that can be quick and easy, but there are times when it is long and drawn-out.
One thing that can have an impact on how the probate process plays out is whether there are any issues with the will. This is something that you might not be able to determine until the time to handle it comes. Here are some points to know about the will during the probate process:
Not all assets can be included in the will
There are some assets that don't go through the probate process. These shouldn't be included in the will since they are usually governed by other factors.
Certain financial accounts and life insurance policies are two examples of exceptions. These accounts have specific individuals named to whom the pension plan administrator or financial institution must pay the money when the account or policy holder dies. On a bank account, this is often referred to as the payable-on-death designation. On life insurance policies, the named individual is the beneficiary.
Property that is held in joint tenancy with rights of right of survivorship and assets in a living trust should also be excluded from the will. These have specific designations that must be honored.
Wills are subject to being contested
Sometimes a will might be challenged. A protracted legal battle over the legitimacy of a last will and testament can draw the probate process out if the petitioner has a valid reason to contest the will.
The first thing that is legally considered is whether the person has a right to contest the will. Typically, the challenge must be done by a person who has a legal interest in the will. This means that a distant friend likely wouldn't be considered a party that can contest the will, but the decedent's child from another union could mount a credible challenge to the will.
There must also be a valid reason for contesting the will. There are very strict criteria for this. One of the most common is claiming that the decedent was unduly influenced to create the will in its current state. Another reason is that the person wasn't mentally able to understand the effects of their will.
While these complications can be difficult to deal with when you are already reeling from your loved one's death, they can become an integral part of the probate process. If you are dealing with these challenges, you should learn about the steps you can take to best handle the situation.