If you recently lost a loved one, then you might have a lot on your plate at the moment. The last thing you want to think about is the legal mumbo jumbo surrounding the proper execution of the deceased's last will and testament. However, it is very important that you understand how probate works so that the will can be fulfilled in the spirit in which it was intended.
What is probate?
For all intents and purposes, probate is a legal stamp of approval that a court gives to the will after they thoroughly review it. When someone dies with a will, then that will is not valid yet. First, the executor (the person in charge of making sure that the will is properly carried out) will present the probate to a special court, which will check to make sure that everything is in order. If everything goes well, probate will be granted after a short period and the distribution of the deceased's estate can proceed.
Why might probate be denied?
If there is some sort of problem with the will, then probate might be temporarily denied. Since the purpose of the probate process is to ensure that the will abides by the intentions of the deceased, it is important to identify any factors that might work against those intentions.
For example, if the will appears to have been tampered with, then the spirit of the will may have been compromised. In some cases, the modifications may have been malicious attempts to redistribute the estate for personal gain. In others, the will might have just been modified to clarify some small matters. It is up to the probate court to determine the spirit of such modifications and to reconcile the will with the wishes of the deceased.
Additionally, if the will was written without following the proper protocols, then the court might withhold probate until the discrepancies have been resolved. Wills generally require the signatures of multiple witnesses, and their absence might lead to a delay in the probate process. It is important that the court ensures that the will was definitively written by the deceased when they were in a sound state of mind.
Finally, a will may be contested during the probate process. This essentially means that someone close to the deceased challenges the validity of the will and offers evidence as to why the will inaccurately reflects the wishes of the deceased.
For a local probate lawyer, contact a lawyer such as David R Webb Attorney.