The Probate Process Explained

Many people wonder what probate is and what happens during the probate process. In a nutshell, probate is how your assets are distributed after you die. Hopefully, you have a will in place. If you have a will, the court will review the will and distribute your assets. If you didn’t get around the writing a will, the court is going to decide who gets your assets.

Having a will is important because it makes it clear what is going to happen to your things after you die. There is little to no interpretation. If you didn’t have a will, things get a little murkier and your assets might not be distributed the way you want them to be.

During the probate process, some debts may be settled and titles transferred. If you had a will, the person you named as executor will go to court and start the process of dividing your property. If there is no will, your spouse or child will go to court and ask to be named as executor and they will begin the process of distributing the assets.

Once you go to court, you will have to file a petition and give notice to any potential heirs. If anybody objects to this, they can go to court to protest. You also have to publish this notice in a local newspaper. Once you get appointed by the court as the executor or administrator, you will have to give notice to all the known creditors of the estate.

Creditors have a certain amount of time to file a claim. An inventory of the estate will also need to be conducted and real estate will need to be appraised. If there are any claims, you will have to pay them from the estate. You can sell assets if needed to satisfy the debts.

Once creditors can no longer make claims on the estate, any titles to property can be transferred. If there was a will, the titles will be transferred to the people named in the will. If there was no will, the titles will be transferred according to intestacy laws. This means the spouse would be first, then children, siblings, and cousins. It goes on down the line until a suitable heir is found.

Having a will makes the process easier and less complicated. It can also make the process cheaper. You definitely want to consider a will, or even better a living trust. With a living trust, you can avoid the cost and time of the probate process completely. This makes your passing the most stress-free because you won’t have to deal with the courts.

Probate is a legal process and is supervised by the court. If you want to avoid the court getting involved, you need to set up a living trust. Probate can be costly and it isn’t private. A living trust allows for the private distribution of assets when someone dies and you don’t need to get the courts involved in the process.

What Is A Will?

In our first blog post, we feel like it is important to establish the basics of estate planning. The more knowledge you are equipped with going into the process, the better off you will be in the long run.

A will, commonly known as a “last will and testament,” is basically a legal document that states your final wishes. Wills are read by county courts upon your death, and are enforced by the same.

While it sounds simple on paper, it is important to have a perfectly written will so there is no chance for misinterpretation or malice. If your only possession is a house, and you only have one living relative who happens to be an adult, then your will process is probably incredibly easy. The complex nature of wills comes in when it comes to naming executors, guardians of children, paying taxes, and providing for any surviving pets.

We will get more into wills as our blog series continues, but we thought it was important to have this post up so our visitors can have a baseline of what to expect when they enter an estate planning consultation.

If you would like to learn a bit more about wills, please watch the following video!