In Australia, about 51% of contested estates were done so through family provision claims, as per a study done by researchers from the University of Queensland. As much as 86% of these cases were family provision claims. And the most common claimants? Adult children. Contesting a will in Australia is not uncommon. Several factors play a role in whether will disputes arise when a person dies. This is why probate is more important than ever.

Probate is defined as the process of administering the estate of the deceased as outlined in his or her will. It involves several steps, which all begins with the executor applying for a grant of probate, a legal document that grants him the authority to administer the assets as indicated in the will. The probate process is a lengthy one, especially when one is interested in contesting a will. Whether he or she is a beneficiary, the individual contesting a will or challenging a will shall affect the time it takes for the entire probate process to be completed.

 

The Probate Process and How Contesting a Will Can Affect It

Whether the deceased left a will or died intestate, the probate process is required to administer his or her estate. How smoothly the probate process goes is dependent on several factors, including how many beneficiaries they are, if the beneficiaries all agree to the terms of the will, whether there are parties interested in contesting a will or challenging a will, and the number of debts and liabilities the estate has to pay for before the distribution to beneficiaries. Throughout this process, individuals involved in are encouraged to consult with estate lawyers, as they can provide sound advice on the various processes and decisions that need to be made surrounding the administration of an estate. But what exactly does it take for the probate process to succeed? What are the steps to reach a full administration of an estate left behind by a loved one?

 

Ensuring the last will and testament is authentic and valid.

The process of ensuring that the last will and testament is indeed authentic involves filing for an application to begin probate of the estate. The hearing is an opportunity to make known that the known will is indeed the last and that witnesses to the will can attest to it. According to The Balance, it is also an opportunity for those who are interested in challenging a will to step up, for reasons such as, they believe there is a newer will or are in possession of one. This is usually where will disputes arise and will dispute lawyers come in.

Assigning an Executor of Will or personal representative of the testator.

The responsibility of administering an estate falls upon the executor of will, sometimes called administrator or personal representative. Most of the time, the executor of will is already named in the last will and testament and is already made known to the him or her while the testator is still alive. In other cases when an executor is not named, the court will select either a living spouse or adult child to fill that role. He or she will then receive a document authorizing him or her to act on behalf of the estate and distribute assets as indicated in the will after all liabilities have been accounted for.

 

Locating and determining the value of the estate’s assets.

The will isn’t the only legal document an executor must refer to during the probate process. In fact, it is the executor’s responsibility to create an inventory of the possessions and assets of the estate to determine their value before they are distributed to the beneficiaries. There will be cases wherein some testators do not explicitly name some properties or indicate how much they are owed by another party if they acted as a creditor. Enlisting the help of estate lawyers throughout the process is a sensible choice, as they can provide knowledge and resources in handling an estate throughout the probate.

 

Identifying and notifying creditors and paying debts and other liabilities.

For an estate’s assets to be distributed amongst beneficiaries, any debts and liabilities must be paid off. Once creditors present their claims and these claims are validated, the executor of will must ensure that all of these are paid.

 

Ensuring that those contesting a will come forward and all will disputes are settled.

In the event that a party is interested in contesting a will, it’s important that will disputes lawyers are on hand to help determine if their claims are valid. If they are, the claimant may want to file a family provision claim. Such will disputes must be settled before the estate would be administered to the beneficiaries.

 

The probate process can take anywhere from 6 to 24 months to complete, depending on the different factors that come into play. Throughout this entire process, it’s beneficial for those involved to check in with their estate lawyers to stay updated on developments and seek advice in the event that parties are interested in challenging a will or contesting a will. For those who do not have experience in contesting a will, seeking the advice of will disputes lawyers is also a smart choice.