When you begin your estate planning, one of the most important parts is the probate process. Prior to making any major decisions, you need to know what probate is and how it impacts the estate. This way you will not have any surprises along the way. The following is some helpful information about probate:
The Process of Probate
Probate refers to the process of distributing an estate after the death of the owner of said estate. The distribution will go to anyone chosen by the deceased as a beneficiary. Probate also settles debts, if any.
Probate Step by Step
Probate has many steps. You first need to choose an administrator of the estate. If you leave a will, the execution of it will be done by the administrator. If you have no will or administrator, the courts will assign someone to take charge.
The courts will then take steps to prove the will is valid. Each state has its own rules regarding the types of signatures, notaries, and witnesses required to validate the will. Once the will is validated, the inventory of property process begins. No assets can be distributed to anyone until probate is finalized. Any appraisal of property will happen at this time. Any creditors who are owed money will be paid before any beneficiary receives assets from the estate.
When You Do Not Leave a Will
If you do not create a will, or if all of your assets are not listed in the will, the process of probate will decide who receives those assets. Anyone who wants to benefit from your estate also has the opportunity to challenge the will in court.
Paying for Probate
There are some fees required for the probate process. This includes any legal fees and court costs. The executor is responsible for these costs if they are not accounted for in the estate.
Assets That Can't Go Through Probate
There are some assets that are not allowed to go through probate. This includes life insurance policies with listed beneficiaries, real estate that has multiple names attributed to it, and any "payable upon death" beneficiary bank accounts.
Keep in mind that probate law is different in every state. Some do not even require an attorney for probate. However, it is in everyone's best interest to work with a probate attorney to ensure the entire estate is safe and goes to those who you wish.
Reach out to a probate law service to learn more.