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What Happens if You Don’t do Probate?

When a person dies, you, as the executor or administrator of the estate, are not obligated by law to submit probate papers. However, without filing probate papers, you won’t have the legal authority to transfer the ownership of assets registered under the deceased person’s name. While it’s not a mandatory requirement, it’s generally advisable to file probate papers. Before delving further, let’s clarify what probate entails. Often labeled as the process of “proving a will,” it is somewhat misleading as estates typically undergo probate, even in the absence of a will. A more detailed explanation describes probate as the court’s oversight and approval of managing and distributing a deceased person’s assets, even without a will. Notably, when a person passes away without distributable assets, technically, there’s no need to file probate since there’s nothing to distribute. However, this doesn’t automatically exempt you from court involvement.

Filing a Will Requirement

If you have knowledge that someone has passed away with a will, nevertheless of their financial standing, a lot of states require you to file the will in the probate court. Filing a will is different than filing probate papers (that includes a Petition for Probate). Filing a will is simply, filing a will. If you intentionally fail to file an existent will, you may have liability in both criminal court and civil court for damages ensuing to any party that would have gained benefits from the estate. Possible creditors and beneficiaries have the right to have knowledge that they could have an interest in the estate.

So What may Happen if Probate Papers Don’t get Filed?

Even when you file the will or if a will is non-existent, filing probate papers can still be necessary to settle the estate.

  1. Legal title to assets may be blurred.

If the deceased had assets — like a home, a vehicle, or a retirement account devoid of a designated beneficiary — these assets can’t be passed on without the court’s acceptance through the process of probate.

  1. Heirs may have legal disputes facing you.

If the deceased passed away lacking a will yet held assets, those assets can’t be lawfully allocated not using the probate process establishing the appropriate precedence of inheritance using the state’s intestate succession law. When probate papers aren’t filed, heirs may not get what they’re legally owed and might sue.

  1. Issues with an existing will might remain settled.

When an existing will raises concerns, it may address issues like competency or signature effectiveness. Preventive steps, such as trusts, can mitigate problems. Neglecting probate filing may lead to legal complications without prior protective measures. If probate costs or filing effort overwhelm you, let us assist.

 
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