Top Estate Litigation Lawyers in Vancouver
Probating Wills and Estates
Probate is the process that the courts go through to ascertain if a will is valid, if an estate owes taxes or needs to pay bills, and to resolve any claims and property distribution.
Probate is time consuming and complicated. Many married couples structure their property and beneficiary designations so that the surviving spouse will not have to go through probate.
Probating Wills and Estates During Separation and Divorce
During a separation or divorce, however, it is often necessary to redo the documents to more accurately reflect each person’s current situation. Things get very complicated if these documents are not finalized before the divorce and one of the spouses happens to die. For example, if you have been separated for less than a year, upon death, your assets and custody of your children will most likely go to your spouse. If you are involved in separation or divorce, be sure to seek advice as to how to change your will or asset agreements so you can avoid going to probate in the unfortunate situation of your ex’s demise.
Items You Typically Need to Organize as Part of an Estate Probate
In addition to a will, you should also have bank and brokerage statements, stock and bond certificates, life insurance policies, corporate records, deeds, titles (cars, boats) and three years of income tax returns.
Why You Want to Avoid Probate
Probate is time consuming. However, if a decedent owned property or assets in their sole name, probate is necessary to get the ownership transferred to the beneficiaries likely indicated in the will.
Part of the process of probate is to establish death values for all of the decedent’s assets. This involves contacting appraisers to get a value for any real estate, jewelry, art, and any businesses the decedent owned. You also need to determine if any bills or income or estate taxes of the decedent need paying.
The family law team at Thomas and Associates are experienced in probating wills and estates as well as structuring assets and agreements so people can avoid going to probate.