The Listen to Lawrence Letter: Paperwork to Probate and/or Administer an Estate
December 7, 2021
Dear Clients and Friends,
The paperwork to probate and/or administer an estate at death can be daunting and confusing. Check out the following question from one of my clients:
I recently was mailed a “Waiver of Process; Consent to Probate” letter (along with the form I need to sign and have notarized…and a copy of my relative’s Last Will and Testament) from a local law firm. I pretty much understand the purpose of the letter. However, there is a “Further Relief Sought” box that has been checked, and handwritten next to it are the words: That a bond be dispensed with.
Is it a good idea to agree with that? Is this a customary request (to dispense with a bond)? I have no idea as to the size of the estate. My relationship to the decedent is that of Paternal First Cousin Once Removed. I never even met the decedent. To my knowledge, he was not married and has no living children.
I am inclined to just go ahead and have my signature notarized and then return the form to the law firm.
When a will is being offered for probate, all distributees (anyone who by law would receive a part of the estate if there were no will) must be given “notice” that the will is being offered for probate, together with a copy of the will. The distributee is asked to waive formal notice, and if not waived a process server will be at your door to hand you official “notice.” Unless you are trying to be a pain in the a**, it’s best to sign and save the estate the money to hire the process server. You are not waiving any real rights, just waiving how you will receive notice.
In the question above, the notice also mentions dispensing with the bond requirement. This is curious because every will I have ever seen dispenses with the bond requirement, so this is not an issue that should be brought up at this time. That is unless this particular will does not mention the bond for some reason. Let’s assume that is true and that is why the lawyer here is seeking this additional relief. So should you waive the bond? In order to answer this question, I would encourage you to call the lawyer for the estate and ask questions. If you feel satisfied with the answers, then dispense with the bond. If not, let them get a bond. Understand that the cost of the bond is an expense of the estate, so you could end up getting less in the end. Just use your best judgment. Most people would dispense with the bond unless they saw a red flag along the way.
I hope this helps! Please forward this information to your friends and relatives to share these informative answers to some very commonly asked questions.
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Until next time…
peace, health and happiness,
Lawrence Eric Davidow