Wills allow estate holders to establish their wishes for their estates before their passing. The probate process helps to ensure the proper distribution of the estate in alignment with the estate holder’s responsibilities and wishes.

Whether someone is creating a will or standing to gain from one, the probate process is an important aspect to understand. It is also critical to know how the will impacts the probate process.

Probate

In short, probate is the legal process that the courts utilize to validate an estate’s distribution. New Hampshire’s probate laws fully detail what the process entails. The court examines all applicable assets, ensures that all debts and taxes are paid, then oversees the distribution of the remaining assets in accordance with the estate holder’s wishes. There are a few assets that the courts exclude from the probate process, such as:

  • Life insurance and retirement benefits
  • Trust assets
  • Jointly held properties

These and a few other assets are either seen as separate property or partially owned by others. In such cases, they have their own regulations, and some, such as trusts, may have separate taxes to consider.

Will

The will is an essential part of the probate process because it is the means that the courts utilize to substantiate the wishes of the estate holder. Should there not be a will in place, the court takes over the determination of how to distribute the estate. Assets go to the immediate family members in the order and amount that the law has described. In the case of a will contest, the courts take the matter seriously, and may put a hold on the probate process or extend it. 

Having one clear will is important, so someone creating an estate plan should take time to ensure that the will is in order and encompasses all of the assets he or she desires to protect. It may be beneficial to consult with an attorney to ensure that the plan accomplishes all the goals intended.