How Long Do I Have To Probate A WIll?

What Happens if You Don’t Probate a Will?
Assignment Content

The term “probate” may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Usually, when someone passes away and they have a will, they name a specific person as the executor of their will. This person is responsible for certain tasks, including making sure the deceased’s debts are paid and any remaining funds are distributed as the deceased wished. Sometimes, life and other commitments get in the way, and a lengthy probate process isn’t ideal. You might be wondering if you can skip the probate process and settle the estate yourself.

What happens if you don’t probate a will? 3D Partners Wealth understands that it’s essential to know what could happen if you don’t probate a will, including what could happen if you don’t file probate documents, as well as information on how you can avoid probate.

Types of Probate

how to probate a will

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There are several probate options in Hawaii for handling the estate of someone who has died with assets. These options depend on certain factors, such as whether they had $100,000 or less in assets. In this case, probate is unnecessary, and assets can usually be collected reasonably quickly and inexpensively. However, it’s important to note that if the person who has died owned any real estate, no matter the value, probate is required.

There are three types of ordinary probate:

  • Informal probate may be used when all of the named beneficiaries are cooperative. This type of probate doesn’t require any court appearances and is typically the fastest probate.
  • Formal probate is used when there are one or more specific issues or when the named personal representative wants to limit their liability by having a judge handle approval of decisions and provide instruction.
  • Supervised probate is used when there are any major disputes over an estate. A probate judge supervises the case and required court appearances. This type of probate takes longer, sometimes years.

How Does Probate Work?

Once you understand the probate types, you should next learn about the probate process and what happens when someone with a will dies. Probate will begin when someone files a court petition to open the case. In a case with a will, the court will accept the will and then appoint the estate’s executor. The executor is usually named in the will. If there’s no will, then the court will appoint someone to be an administrator.

Hearings for probate will give all parties with interest in the estate an opportunity to contest both the appointment of the executor and the will itself. Creditors will then be notified of the death and are given a time frame to make a claim against the estate to recover debts. An inventory of property, such as homes, cars, and bank accounts, will be appraised. After debts are paid and tax returns filed, the executor petitions the court to distribute all remaining assets as defined by the will.

What Can Happen If Probate Isn’t Filed?

While most of the time, the personal executor of a will cannot be prosecuted criminally if a probate case is not filed, there may be other serious consequences. There’s an exception to this: if the executor conceals a will for their benefit or financial gain, they can be prosecuted. Usually, an executor has a series of other issues that stem from not filing probate, such as civil lawsuits.

If you don’t file for probate of a will, one of the most common issues you’ll face is that titled assets will be in limbo until the estate is probated. When someone passes away, titled property, such as vehicles and real estate, must be transferred to the beneficiary of said assets. To do this, you must file the proper documentation in order to transfer the titles and verify the will. If you don’t file probate, the transfer of titles can’t be completed. Therefore, the transfer will not occur.

Another potential consequence of not filing probate is that any heirs could file legal claims against the executor. If an estate has assets that are to be distributed to beneficiaries, these people can file lawsuits against the executor to receive their property. They can also claim any damage to the property that occurred in the meantime and lost assets that happened because they weren’t transferred in a timely manner.

It’s not uncommon for someone to have unpaid debts when they pass away. If this happens, the creditor has a right to file a claim against the estate to seek repayment. If probate is filed, creditors usually have approximately four months to file their claims. If probate isn’t filed, that time is extended up to 12 months.

Situations That Don’t Require Probate

While probate is recommended to ensure that debts are paid, liabilities are liquidated, and assets are appropriately distributed, certain situations don’t require probate. If a property is owned jointly, it will transfer to the co-owner without going through the probate process. Small estates may also be exempt from probate, but they must fall below a certain threshold.

A revocable living trust allows a person to place their assets in a trust where a designated person, called a trustee, manages the assets and distributes them after the person’s death. They must also be in charge of the person’s property and manage assets once they are funded.

Probate can be a lengthy process and may be unavoidable. If you’re navigating these potentially troublesome waters, it’s essential to have someone on your side that understands the process and has your best interest in mind. If you’re unsure whether or not probate is required for your situation, reach out to our expert team at 3D Wealth Advisors.

Our team of dedicated advisors can help guide you through the process of probating a will, as well as a variety of other financial scenarios, with the guidance and attention that you deserve. Our team has a deep-seated passion for helping area residents organize assets and wealth. You can contact us by phone at 808-791-1444 or by reaching out to us online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.