The Probate Process and Beneficiaries

The Probate Process and Beneficiaries

Families, Estates, and What You Leave Behind

The hardship on individuals and families can be substantial upon the death of a loved one. When there are no known beneficiary designations of property and assets for passing onto beneficiaries or heirs, it can become difficult and emotionally taxing for successors to speculate at the deceased’s final wishes.

For this reason, when a person dies testate, (dies leaving a will) there is a legal process of settling a debts and distributing properties and assets. This judicial or court process is known as probate. For the remainder of the article, the party, whose properties are in question of being probated via a will, will be referred to as “you.”

Probate Administration Process

After your passing, the financial value of your personal property will be passed onto each beneficiary. We all think about life insurance, but we rarely think about a will. For those who die without a will, your beneficiaries will need to obtain a Grant of Administration from the Alberta Court of Queens Bench. This is an order from the court providing your loved ones with the ability to deal with your estate.

When you have written a will your executor will go about the process of probating the will so they can deal with your property and non-probate property in the most direct and simplified manner. This is not an easy process that you wish to put upon your family or loved ones through. Many families are concerned about their estate and possible inheritance tax. There is no need to worry about this in Alberta, as Alberta does not have inheritance tax.

Any person with assets should have a will, no matter if they are young or old, family or nonfamily, single or married.Upon completion of drafting up your will, you will name an executor or executrix of said will to act as your personal representative. This person will work directly with the probate lawyer to file the necessary documents required by law for one’s personal property and assets to be properly distributed, subject to probate, following your passing. For those who do not have a will at the time of their passing, your family will have to negotiate and work out who will be you administrator. If no agreement can be made a judge will appoint a government  official to act on behalf of your estate.

The executor of your will provides the necessary legal documentation which acts to validate your will, lay out your properties and assets, define the amount of debt which is unresolved, and signify the beneficiaries who are to inherit your estate. After your executor has provided this information to the probate lawyer and probate court, notification will is sent to relatives and beneficiaries regarding your passing.

The Executor of a Will

The process of probate can often take from just a few months to over a year. During this time, the executor of your will must securely manage your remaining estate’s assets and property. The amount of time for which the probate and estate distribution process takes is dependent on your will and on the debts which are left behind. Depending on the will, it will be up to the executor, whether they should sell the remaining assets, real estate and possessions, to adhere to the bequests of your will.

For example, if you leave your child an amount of cash in your will but your assets are not liquid and are tied up in other investments, the executor will decide which assets to sell to adhere to the cash inheritance, as defined in your will.

If you leave behind outstanding debts, the executor will decide which assets will be sold to pay them off. If there is any property or assets left after your debts are settled with outstanding secured debtors, your executor will oversee the distribution of your estate by adhering to the will you have left.

Since these proceedings and processes can drag on for months, Alberta allow the surviving, immediate family members to request support funds. These funds are meant to be short-term and will eventually lead to your executor’s administration of the estate transfer. This is only possible, though, after the court has determined your outstanding debts and taxes as being settled. For those who wish to learn more about the executor of a will, drawing up a will, or going through the process of probating an estate, contact a lawyer at Estate Connection for a guiding hand and professional expertise.

Property Requirements

It is not a legal requirement that all your property must go through the  process of probate upon your death. Many times, one can avoid probate by designating a friend or family member to be the beneficiary of an investment. This provides a simplified procedure for getting assets to these people. Another way to get your loved ones your property is to provide a  one-time tax-free cash gift to a family member.   All properties and estate assets that are transferred may require tax to be paid, except those that are exempt. Preventative measures can assist in the mitigation of assets lost to taxes. By setting up a living trust before your passing, you can bypass the probate process, thereby leaving your estate to the ones in which you have intended.

taxesProbate is a legal process which keeps all parties safe from financial opportunists and tax vultures; however, the process is rarely of much benefit to the parties for whom you plan on leaving your estate. Almost always, the probate process involves money and time on the part of the beneficiaries, which can add insult to injury in the wake of a loved one’s passing.

If you know that you will be passing from this life with many unpaid debts, taxes, or other complications to the liquidity of your estate and assets, the probate process can simplify the burden left for your family or loved ones. However, if you have spent your life in the acquisition of property, assets, and valuable possessions (or you simply have a significant amount of money), the goal of avoiding probate may be one to consider. If you are young, forward-thinking, and frugal, do not worry about attempting to sidestep the probate process. In fact, the process of appointing an executor of a will and probating one’s estate is necessary for the fiscal safety of all parties.

Forward-Thinking and Responsible Living

Drafting a will is not only a good idea for those in their later stages of life but is smart for any responsible adult. This is especially true for those who have children, property, valuables, or general wealth, as a will is essential for organizing the well-being of your family after you are gone. No one plans on accidents occurring; however, they do happen every day. Contact a lawyer who is an expert in the drafting of wills and estate probate proceedings like Estate Connection.

No one wants to add financial hardships to the grief of losing a loved one. Being prepared for the future and the inevitable outcome of all life which comes to fruition on the planet Earth will lift the burden from your shoulders in the end. Drafting your will early in life, so it can easily be amended and updated over the years, is a significant way to care for your loved ones every day of your life and beyond.

Written by Stacy Maurier