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What Happens With Your Will? Understand the Probate Process

What Happens With Your Will? Understand the Probate Process

Most people know that having a will is important. It allows you to express how you would like your assets handled after your death, and can include important information regarding the custody of any surviving children. Nevertheless, many people do not understand how a will is executed.

After you pass on, your will is managed through a local probate court. Consequently, many are not prepared for what’s ahead. Here is an introduction to the probate process and how it works.

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1. Your Executor Takes Charge

As part of your will, you should have identified an executor. Your executor files all necessary paperwork with the probate court. Moreover, according to Steve Bliss, a probate attorney, “the executor will provide the court with information regarding your current debts and assets, and your instructions regarding who should inherit certain property.”

Accordingly, once the filings are complete, official notification of your death will be released to all interested parties. The executor locates and secures all of the included properties, and manages all assets throughout this process. Conversely, they will also determine if any assets should be sold to cover any remaining debts.

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2. Short Term Support Requests

Depending on the state, your immediate family members may have the right to request funds from your assets to support their basic needs. For example, funds may be made available to provide basic support for your children, such as food and housing. The court makes decisions regarding these requests alone, and requests can be denied.

3. A Mandatory Waiting Period

Ordinarily, your assets cannot be provided to your heirs until the court releases the executor to do so. This waiting period ensures all of your final bills, such as remaining debts and funeral expenses, have been paid before any property is distributed. Even once all debts are settled, additional time is required to provide any creditors, whom the executor may not have been aware, have the opportunity to make a claim against the estate.

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4. Completing the Process

Only after all of these requirements are met can your assets be distributed to your heirs. Consequently, the executor will then take any necessary steps to legally transfer the property to the designated heir. Any payments or donations made to charitable organizations are also managed by the executor. Once the entire process is complete, the court releases the executor from their duties.

The total amount of time required may vary even when everything works smoothly. It is not uncommon for the probate process to take close to one year under the best of circumstances. If the will is contested, or if the estate is particularly complex, it can take much longer to finish.

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5. Contested Wills

A will may be contested if it is impossible that the will is not completely valid. This can include issues regarding how the document was completed, whether the person who created the will did so while under undue influence, or if the person may not have been of sound mind when it was created. If the will is contested, then the court will need to render a decision regarding the validity of the will, and if any other party has a reasonable claim to the assets. Depending on the state, a jury trial may even occur.

A contested will can take a very long time to complete the probate process. If the will is rendered invalid, then arguments may occur regarding who should receive which assets.

Can Probate Be Avoided?

If you want to avoid your will going through the probate process, it is wise to consider placing your assets in a living trust. Once part of the trust, the assets are legally no longer your property. Instead, the assets are owned by the trust, and you function as the trustee. This allows you to manage the assets as you see fit. You can designate a person to assume the position of trustee upon your death, allowing them to take immediate control of all of the assets within the trust. Unlike assets in a will, the assets in a trust are not subject to the probate process.

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Last Updated on August 4, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to master the Gentle Art of Saying No:

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1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no,” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning.

But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

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“Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

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“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.

10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

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Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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