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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 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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