A probate lawyer people recommend will share that hiring a professional is vital for several reasons. They can assist with estate planning and provide critical support to families after a loved one has passed away. While proper planning can ensure the smoothest possible process, complications can still arise. Resolving the estate can be even more challenging when a person has passed away without a will. Most people don’t consider enduring this process until the time to begin sorting out the estate. However, Theus Law Offices knows that when it’s time, there will be many questions regarding probate and the process that lies ahead.
What is probate?
Probate is a legal process that involves validating the will and ensuring that the appropriate executor is appointed. Several key steps are taken during this process. To initiate probate, the designated executor files a petition with the probate court. Once the petition is filed, the process will likely become public as although beneficiaries will receive notice; the notice will become public record, allowing anyone to have access. The estate executor will take an inventory of assets and notify creditors. Before distributing any assets, the executor must pay all taxes on the estate and resolve any outstanding debts. Finally, assets can be distributed to beneficiaries as outlined within the will.
What are ways that a person can plan to avoid probate?
The probate process is often dreaded by many for several reasons, including; the estate is open to creditors, the estate could be vulnerable to disputes should someone contest the will, and the process is public, which means financial information may be exposed to anyone looking. Lastly, the process can result in costly legal fees and be long drawn out before a resolution is reached. While having a will in place can certainly simplify the probate process, it’s also important to be aware that there are several other strategies for reducing the number of assets that pass through probate, for example:
- Creating a Living Trust
- Appointing Beneficiaries
- Naming Beneficiaries on Payable-on-Death Accounts
- Jointly Owned Property
What are common complications that can arise through the probate process?
While developing a will is a way to ensure that the testator’s final wishes are carried out, there can still be complications that may arise. When these complications are not managed appropriately, with help from a legal professional, serious problems can arise. Examples of challenges estate executors and beneficiaries stand to face include the following:
- Distributing Assets Too Early
- Not Having Enough Money to Pay Creditors or Taxes
- Probate Disputes That Involve Litigation
- Contesting the Will
- Guardianship Disagreements
- Legal Claims
- The Identified Executor or Guardian Declines to Take on Their Roles
- Familial Discord
- Creditor Claims on the Estate
What assets pass through probate?
While it’s important to note that the laws surrounding probate can vary by state, typically, probate property assets will likely pass through probate. Assets that may pass through probate include:
- Real Estate
- Personal Possessions
- Valuables (Jewelry, Art Work, Collectibles, etc.)
While some of these items may have to pass through probate, with a living trust in place, it may be possible for some assets to bypass the process. In addition, remember that some assets, like payable-on-death accounts, retirement accounts, etc., may avoid probate only if a beneficiary has been named.
What are the laws of intestate succession?
As mentioned, when a person passes away without a will, probate court will appoint an estate executor or administrator who will work to resolve the estate. It’s important to note that for any accounts with beneficiary designations listed, the contents will be passed to the beneficiaries. However, with no will, the court will decide how assets are distributed according to succession laws.
Managing a person’s estate after death can be a serious undertaking. The process of resolving an estate can be both complex and emotionally charged. Professionals of Theus Law Offices recommend speaking with an experienced probate lawyer to ensure a smooth process.