Financial feuds can exacerbate the emotional distress of losing a loved one. Family members often fight over the decedent’s estate, asserting their rights and contesting the will.
As a result, probate can be an agonizing experience. It is a court-supervised process when a will’s executor, or a court-appointed administrator in the absence of a will, files the will to court, notifies heirs and creditors, makes an estate inventory, pays outstanding debts and distributes assets to heirs or beneficiaries.
However, there are ways for a testator or the person who made the will to make probate less painful for everyone they leave behind.
Ways to keep the family and estate intact after death
A probate’s ease and complexity depend on the severity of disputes among involved parties and an estate’s size. While the testator cannot control the situation when they pass on, there are ways they can manage things while still alive:
- Set clear expectations: Find time to discuss with loved ones and interested parties about the intent to draft a will. Explain in detail the goals and context behind every term. While a will is a personal decision and must reflect a testator’s wishes, there is value in considering others’ views and how these can impact relationships.
- Store essential documents safely: Organize confidential data, such as passwords and account numbers, in a protected location and hand them off to a trusted individual or potential executor. Having accurate access to valuable information can help expedite the process instead of scouring the decedent’s home.
- Settle health and money concerns: Medical and financial powers of attorney can designate a person to make critical decisions in the event of death or incapacitation. These legal documents can take the pressure off families or prevent potential quarrels during stressful occasions.
Arkansas probate can consume so much time and resources. So, some seek workarounds to shorten or avoid it. For instance, a small estate affidavit may work if it has been 45 days since the decedent’s passing, the estate does not exceed $100,000 or no prior probate petition exists.
Preparation can lead to peace of mind
Some put off estate planning, thinking that it is a monumental task. However, a legal team can help them prepare and advise them on their options. Doing so can give them peace of mind that their family and estate are safe and sound after they die.