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What You Can – And Can’t – Do During the Guilford County Probate Process

When a loved one passes, beyond the emotional pain there are many other matters to consider. After someone dies , there’s the legal obligation of administering an estate, which often includes probate.

Guilford County probate is court supervised estate administration. It’s the process by which the decedent’s estate is settled and distributed to the people or charities entitled to receive an inheritance.  This process can take weeks, months, or even years, depending on the size and complexity of the estate. Since this process can take a significant amount of time, it’s important to be familiar with actions you can or can not take as you move through the proceedings. 

You can’t take anything from the decedent’s estate. 

It’s up to the Court or the person in charge of the estate to distribute the assets of the estate. That means you’re not entitled to take property or money even if the deceased told you that you could have it, and even if it reads so in the will. You’ll have to wait until the property is distributed through the court process to receive whatever it is you’re supposed to get.

One of the things probate does is pay the creditors that the deceased owed money to before he or she died. Probate will use any cash available, and if there isn’t enough to pay debts, the family may need to liquidate assets in the estate until there’s enough money. This could mean liquidating what was promised to you if that’s necessary for paying the debts.  

You can contest the will (maybe). 

Under limited circumstances you can contest the will.You’ll need to show that the will is invalid in some way, either through fraud or someone’s undue influence on the deceased. The surviving spouse also may have claims against the estate, in addition to what he or she is to receive under the terms of the will. You won’t get very far contesting a will simply because you don’t like what’s in it. The best time to contest a will is during probate, before anyone has received any property. Property will be distributed once your dispute is resolved. 

You can make plans for what to do with your inheritance. 

You can make plans for what you’ll do with your inheritance once you receive it. Work with your estate planning attorney or financial advisor, to know your options. If you’re the beneficiary of an IRA, you need to consider naming new beneficiaries now that after you inherit the IRA. 

If you’re the Executor, you can take care of the property. 

Executors have a duty to make sure property doesn’t lose value. An Executor can, for example, clean the house or pay someone to maintain it. They can’t let the property lose value or make it inherently different. For example, an Executor can’t renovate a single-family house into a multi-family rental unit. Sometimes the Executor needs to sell the property, and doing so often requires court permission in advance.

If you are currently going through the Guilford County probate process and you have questions about what you can or can not do during the proceedings, feel free to contact our Greensboro probate attorneys at (336) 378-1122 to schedule a consultation.

 

 

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