A last will and testament is a legally binding document that outlines your choices about who will receive your property, money, and other assets when you die. It can also outline important matters such as choosing a legal guardian for your child or children. Once someone dies, how is a will carried out? Moreover, how long is a will valid after death if, for instance, there are other situations that may complicate matters?
In general, an estate can't be distributed to named beneficiaries until the will has been through the probate process. The specific probate process will differ for every family and will ultimately affect how long the beneficiaries have to wait.
In this article, we will be uncovering how long a will is valid after death. For help with creating a will using an easy-to-use method from the comfort of your home, visit Wills.com.
Establishing A Will: What Happens After Someone Dies
Once a loved one has died, and they have left a last will and testament, then there are a couple of crucial steps that must take place. The probate process usually takes place fairly quickly, with an appointed legal will executor or personal representative that takes charge in administering the estate and distribution of assets to the intended beneficiaries.
The quicker this happens, the sooner the beneficiaries can get a hold of the assets that they have been left in the will.
What Is The Probate Process?
When someone dies, their executor is appointed by the court or named within the will itself. This executor is responsible for distributing the deceased's assets upon or shortly after death. In order to do so, the executor must file a petition with the probate court requesting permission to distribute the assets.
The court then looks over the will and decides if it meets the legal requirements to carry out the final wishes. If it does not meet those requirements, then the will is invalid or may require further evaluations. If it does meet the requirements, then the executor may proceed with distributing the assets.
Once approved, the executor or designator of the will is also responsible for paying any debts of the deceased. There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the decedent was married during his life, then the spouse is entitled to half of the estate. Also, if the decedent's children were under 18 years old, then the parents are entitled to half of the assets.
If the will is invalid, then the executor cannot distribute the assets. Instead, he or she must return all the assets back to the state where the decedent lived. This process can take anywhere between 6 months to up to a year.
What Can Delay The Probate Process?
A frequently asked question is how long is a will valid after death? The will is technically valid if it’s legally binding for as long as the probate process takes. However, there are some things that may delay probate after the death of a loved one.
In some cases, probate can take many months or sometimes years depending on the complexity of a will. A multitude of factors can contribute to a long and drawn-out process of probate law including:
Estates with more than a few beneficiaries
Estates with assets in various states
Filing tax returns on estates
Disputes among beneficiaries
Changes to wills that did not explicitly replace or revoke previous wills
It’s important that your will pronounces explicit wishes to help with expediting the probate process.
What Happens If You Don't Probate A Will
Taking a will to probate may seem like a hassle. Not everyone goes through the probate process. However, by not going through the probate process, then legally none of the deceased assets can be transferred to any of their named beneficiaries. Thus, all the assets become stuck in a state of limbo and no beneficiaries would be able to receive any inheritance.
How Long Is A Will Valid After Death?
How long do loved ones have to file for probate after death? Once a loved one has died, you can file for probate seven days after they have died. Then the whole process of probate can take anywhere between six and twelve months to be completed.
There is actually no time limit to apply for probate. It is recommended that you wait until the last amount of time possible to file for probate. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing out on any potential benefits from the estate. Also, it means you will take longer for the wishes of the deceased to be carried out.
Do Wills Expire?
Generally, wills do not expire, however, a will can be revoked for numerous reasons. Thus, anyone who is aged 18 and above and of sound mind can create a will. However, the will you first create may be changed at a later date or modified. Your wishes may change during the course of your life, therefore we would suggest that every year you read your will to ensure that it is still relevant and meets your needs.
Although, if a will is revoked, the person who wrote it must have physically destroyed the will. Yet, the easiest way to revoke a will is by creating a new one and stating that you revoke your old will. Other reasons a will may be found invalid:
Failing to sign and witness a will
Lacking testamentary capacity
Undue influence and fraud
Having multiple wills
However, if a will cannot be found after death, then it must be assumed that the will was intentionally destroyed. Therefore, the will is revoked this way.
If you would like to create a will with peace of mind that is legally binding, Wills.com can help you create, sign, and invoke your last will and testament without the expense of an Estate Planning attorney.
What Happens If You Don't Leave A Will
If a person dies without leaving a will, then the law determines what happens to their possessions. It depends on whether the person owns real estate or personal property. If the person owns real estate, then the land is sold and the proceeds distributed among the heirs. If the person owns the personal property, then the executor must sell the property and divide the proceeds among the heirs.
In either case, the heirs receive nothing until after the executor sells the property. That way, the executor can keep track of how much money each heir has received. The executor keeps records of the distribution of the estate so that they can be used in future cases.
In addition to keeping records, the executor needs to file an inventory of the items in the estate. This document shows what items are in the estate. It also lists the value of each item.
Importance Of A Will
As you can see, a will makes the distribution of possession and assets much easier after death. It can be worrisome to know where to start when it comes to writing your will. This is where wills.com can help.
By using our service, we can help you create your will online. All you need to answer a couple of simple questions and the base of your will is created. Then you can edit and add it to suit your situation.
By being online, it is in a safe place that is easily accessible after death. You only need to let those who you care about know its whereabouts. Alongside that, you can easily amend and change your will anytime, so that it also fits your needs and suits your wishes.
Creating A Will Using Wills.com
Willis.com offers an online will creation service. Our goal is to make the process easy and simple. We want to make sure that everyone gets the best possible outcome at the end of the day. We hope that this helps you understand more about wills and why they are important.