Losing a close family member or a loved one is always a very intimate and emotional process that requires a lot of time and peace to overcome their passing. There is no room for rush and pressure when going through grieving and mourning. Hence, it is imperative to do everything possible to ensure that this part of life will be relatively less painful and devastating.
Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that death always entails legal processes and paperwork that can be confusing, and thinking about it in advance is already quite overwhelming. But to clear some things up earlier in order to take care of your future peace of mind will be the right thing to do.
One of those things is a wish to keep some sentimental items from a deceased person’s belongings that are dear to your heart. When it comes to removing items before probate, it is better to seek legal advice first and get the information relevant to your case, but keep reading to learn more about what is waiting for you.
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Probate is a legal procedure supervised by the court that prevents a house from being cleaned after death. That is needed to ensure that successors will receive the assets that they are entitled to. If there is a will, probate is still required before emptying the house. The executor mentioned in the will is responsible for fulfilling the will of the decedent in the probate court.
It is essential to keep in mind that such a process can take from a couple of months to several years, depending on the number of people involved in the case, the estate’s particular properties, and the deceased person’s last requirements. The court may pass down the estate for a family member, according to the testament, or can appoint a personal representative or an executor. Still, they need to wait for the probate process to end before they dispose of any items in both cases.
There are some exceptions when probate is not legally needed; thus, you will be able to clear the house as soon as you are ready. Those cases include passing the house down, for example, via community property law, living trust, or joint ownership.
Laws around probate vary from one state to another. Still, the whole process aims to protect personal property and valuable items of a decedent from fraud as well as ensures giving them according to the last wish. It is not a quick and easy process, but it allows you to discuss many family decisions without any rush and avoid conflicts.
After the Probate
It is recommended to change the locks during the process as you may not know all the people who have access to the home, and it will help you avoid dealing with someone who won’t respect the court’s restrictions. The contents of the estate’s house can be distributed among heirs (assets as well as liabilities, such as monthly mortgage payments, house insurance and maintenance, and so on), or personal items may be sold off in an estate sale.
When the probate process is complete, you can finally clear the house, and it is always better to start by getting rid of excess items, like canceling subscriptions or readdressing the mail to your personal home address. Then you can go through a standard decluttering process by sorting all the belongings in three piles – keep, donate/sell, throw away – but make sure you have a separate pile for things other family members would like to keep.
Creating a systematic and organized approach will allow you not only to go through all the documents, photographs, personal stuff, letters, and other property of a deceased but will also make this experience relatively less tedious and mentally exhausting. Remember to find all the necessary documents needed for continuous payments as well as to save sentimental items.
When someone dies, especially someone close to you, it is vital to have enough time in peace to proceed with the loss and be able to cope with what happens to you. For that reason, it is crucial to consider some things in advance (even though it is never a pleasant thing to do) and learn more about laws that accompany so many life changes, including its ending.
If you want to remove items from the real estate of a decedent, it is necessary to be aware of the laws around it and the probate procedure’s purpose. It will allow you to ensure that the distribution is conducted according to the last will (if there is one), avoid disputes within the family, and protect the property from occurring a fraud. If you find the whole situation quite confusing, it will be better to consider an attorney’s advice.