Does a Basic Will Prevent an Estate From Going Into Probate?
A legal will made in San Diego is considered binding by the state. That means that all statements as to who gets what has to be followed to the letter after someone passes. It’s possible to use a “fill-in-the-blanks” will and get the same treatment as long as it’s been properly witnessed and signed. But it’s not always enough to prevent a will from going into probate.
There are certain conditions that cause the court to probate a will in San Diego. Sometimes it’s not clear who is supposed to inherit, and other times the contents of the estate can’t be transferred through traditional means. Either of these situations trigger the need to probate the estate, something that takes time and costs money. The exception are estates that fall under the maximum cap set by the state. Small estates don’t have to go through probate, and heirs can get to the assets with a simple affidavit.
When an estate goes into probate, the executor of the will or a representative is appointed to settle things. They are charged with filing paperwork, making sure outstanding bills are paid, getting a tax ID for the estate along with opening up a bank account they can access. From there, the executor has to find relatives who can inherit, get an inventory of the estate along with a value, and protect all assets during the probate. It’s a lot of work, but the state allows executors to make most decisions without asking the court for permission.
Creditors are given the opportunity to make claims against the estate for payment during the probate period. If claims are made, the executor pays them provided there’s money left in the estate after final expenses. Once all outstanding bills are settled, the executor can request that the court close the case. From there, the executor distributes the remaining assets to the heirs.
All of this happens even if there is a valid will with witnesses. A will is not strong enough to prevent an estate from going into probate if something goes wrong in the inheritance process. The most effective way of avoiding probate is to put all assets into a living and revocable trust. A living trust with named beneficiaries means an estate won’t go through probate as the order of inheritance is clearly laid out.
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