There are MANY MYTHS about Wills and how they work in probate
- If I write a will, my estate will be simple, and it won’t have to go through probate
- If nothing is contested we do not need to do probate
- We need to use that other asset to satisfy the bequest in the Will
- I have a right to an inheritance from my parents-I can’t leave my children out
The Real Story:
- A will is simply a document that controls what happens to the items going into probate.
- Probate is a court process in which the Executor is supervised as he follows the rules to pay taxes and debts and give the rest to the heirs.
- Probate does not start until an Executor asks to be sworn in and the court authorizes action.
- Any asset with beneficiaries named elsewhere is not controlled by your Will. That means there is no public court process; it is a private; the Will cannot control the distribution of these assets.
- Any asset that does not have a private disposition must go through probate to get to heirs. Anyone can look into the public court file and see all the info.
- In North Carolina, the only person you cannot leave out entirely is your spouse.
- Children do not have a right to an inheritance. Parents do not have to write anything special if they leave a child out of their will.
The Important Questions:
- How will you arrange for each of your assets pass to your chosen beneficiaries?
- Do you want to name beneficiaries at the financial institution rather than the Will – for privacy, speed, maximum control, economy?
- What trustworthy person will you pick as Executor?
- How can I keep things simple and avoid conflict if a Will does not do that?
A lawyer will help
Lawyers can explain these commonly misunderstood parts of the process.
They can help make sure you arrange your ownership and your documents to achieve your goals.