When a loved one passes away, there are many issues the family must deal with in that person’s absence. Sometimes — even in the presence of a will — there can be some ambiguity to how the person wanted the passing on of their assets. In times such as this, a probate court may be necessary.
What is probate?
Probate is a legal process by which a deceased person’s assets are distributed to their heirs and designated beneficiaries and any debt owed to creditors is paid off. Usually, probate property is distributed according to the decedent’s will — if there is one — or in accordance with state law if no will exists.
Do I need to go through probate?
Many clients that we work with are settling an estate for the first time, and all have to deal with grief at the loss of a loved one.
The probate process can be intimidating, time-consuming and expensive, particularly if there are significant assets in the estate. However, many estates can be probated in a timely, cost-efficient manner. Many of our clients come to us asking if the probate process is necessary, and they want to know if there is any way to avoid it.
The answer usually depends on many factors:
- Whether there is a valid will
- Determination of decedent’s heirs
- The nature of the assets
- The complexity of the estate
- The ownership of the assets
- Whether there is a revocable living trust
What is the probate process?
At the beginning of the probate process, the will is filed with the court, and it is proven to be either valid or invalid. If no will exists, the court will then confirm the identity of the deceased’s heirs. After that, an accounting of the decedent’s assets is reported to the court while any creditors are allowed to make claims they have against the estate. Debts are then paid to the creditors and the remaining assets are distributed according to the will or by state law if no will is present.
If you need an experienced probate attorney, please contact us today to schedule your complimentary consultation.