What happens if you don’t apply for probate?

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What happens if you don't apply for probate?

When someone passes away, you fill out a will and start the probate process if you execute the probate process. However, what happens if there is no probate? Maybe you’ve changed your mind about being the executor, or perhaps you have other, more important things to take care of. You might wonder if you can handle estate administration without a drawn-out probate procedure. Sadly, the response is frequently negative. 

What will occur if the executor does not grant the will probate? 

Failing to probate a will can be pretty severe for the estate and you personally, mainly if the deceased had any assets or debts. The only legitimate way to distribute a decedent’s assets is through the probate of their will. Without probate, titled property, such as a house or car, remains in the deceased’s name for all time. Because you won’t have access to the person’s signature and consent, you won’t be able to sell them or keep registrations up to date. As a result, the estate will probably incur ongoing costs like property taxes, insurance premiums, and vehicle registrations. The court does not pay you until there is a proper settlement of bills. 

You might also come under the scrutiny of creditors. First, there is the settlement of estate bills through probate. Without it, the estate’s creditors can still pursue payment. 

Last but not least, if you are aware that you must probate the will but fail to do so, the court held you personally responsible for any costs incurred by the estate and any financial repercussions for the decedent’s heirs. It’s usually against the law to withhold a will from the courts for your financial gain, so there might even be jail time. Let’s take the example where your mother specifies that she wants to leave all her possessions to your third cousin. The courts would likely distribute her assets to you as the next of kin if they didn’t know that because they hadn’t seen the will. It would be illegal to purposely conceal or destroy the will to inherit your mother’s assets against her wishes. 

Effects of failing to Probate a Will 

So, in response to the query, what happens if the executor does not probate the will? 

1. The court informally provides the deceased’s assets to heirs. 

2. These assets could continue to cost the estate money in property taxes and insurance premiums. 

3. Creditors may still collect the debts of the deceased. 

4. Anybody possessing the signed document, including the executor, may be held personally liable for any overage costs incurred by the estate or its heirs. 

5. If the executor or anyone else in possession of the signed will didn’t file it for personal gain, they could face criminal charges. 

Assets titled solely in the decedent’s name need a court order to transfer the title, whereas assets with a designated beneficiary can transfer ownership without difficulty outside of probate. These assets will remain frozen in the decedent’s name without a court order until they are eventually foreclosed, repossessed, or seized. Even if a legitimate heir moved into the home or took the car, they wouldn’t have legal property ownership

Which Property Can Be Transferred Without Probate? 

When the financial institution holding the assets receives a copy of the decedent’s death certificate, any purchases with a designated beneficiary listed on the account are eligible to transfer to the beneficiary immediately. The owner can typically designate a beneficiary for the following items: 

1. Having a payable-on-death or transfer-on-death beneficiary on your bank and brokerage accounts 

2. property held in joint tenancy or as tenants in common 

3. retirement savings  

4. Term life insurance 

5. Trusts 

Is Probate Required for an Estate Without Any Valuable Assets? 

The short answer to this is no, as there are no assets to transfer in an estate without valuable assets, so there is no need to go through the probate process. However, probating an estate devoid of valuable assets might have advantages. For instance, closing an estate invalidates the two-year deadline for creditors to file claims against the estate. Probate must be open for at least 4 to 5 months to give the creditors adequate time to submit their claims. However, closing the estate to creditor claims can reduce future problems if a legitimate claim is made. 

Ways to Prevent Probate 

With careful planning, probate may be completely avoided. Some people find this advantageous because doing so can help them avoid paying estate taxes, which can significantly reduce the value of a highly wealthy estate. In addition, since some of the records might not be accessible to the public, avoiding probate can also protect privacy. 

A revocable living trust is one of the most widely used methods of avoiding probate. Although the court places the asset in the faith, the court allows the permitted while still alive. By operation of the trust agreement, asset transfer is transferred to the trust beneficiaries upon death. There is no requirement for probation here. 

One proceeds with the insurance process without going through probate. Your life insurance policy’s beneficiary will receive the death benefit directly without going through the probate court system. 

Some retirement assets may pass without going through probate. For example, when an account owner passes away, they designate a beneficiary who receives the remaining funds. Accounts that are payable on death function similarly. 


There are two owners of this kind of property. The second owner automatically becomes the property’s owner upon the death of the first. Whether or not there is a will, most families will interact with a probate court at some point, but the procedure is usually straightforward and affordable. 

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