You likely have heard numerous sources proclaim the evils of probate when it comes to estate planning. In reality, the complete avoidance of probate is probably extremely unlikely, mostly owing to it's value in dealing with the debts of the estate. It should also be noted that the use of trusts, transfers on death designations and deed assignations can increase the efficiency of the estate process. However, probate is a usually a vital step that must be taken, and it pays to have a good understanding of this legal process. Read on for a better understanding of the probate process in four simple steps.
1. The will is filed in probate court. This step signals the official start of the probate process in which the last will and testament of the deceased is filed in your county's local probate office. Once filed, the document becomes public record. The reading of the will prior to filing will have identified an executor (sometimes called a personal representative) who has been appointed to oversee the probate process alongside the estate attorney. In most states, all named beneficiaries receive a copy of the filing and may request a hearing to challenge any provision contained in the will. Most importantly, a notice to any creditors is posted in a local newspaper for a certain period of time which directs them to come forward with claims on the estate.
2. The executor takes an inventory of the estate. A complete listing of all property and debts can be a daunting and exhausting task, depending on the size and complexity of the estate. Everything from real estate, art, vehicles, stocks and bonds to jewelry and art must be located and itemized. Real estate and valuable items may require the services of a professional appraiser. All debts, particularly taxes, must be totaled and listed. While it is the job of the executor to pay some financial obligations of the estate, they must work very closely with the estate attorney for guidance on what bills to pay during probate, and which ones must wait for probate to be complete. Assets such as bank accounts and property may be used (or sold) to pay any allowable financial obligations.
3. The executor distributes the assets of the estate. Once probate has been complete, the named beneficiaries can, under the administration of the executor, take ownership of their inherited property. Part of the final probate documents include a precise accounting of any financial transactions carried out by the executor during the probate process.
4. The property is officially transferred to the beneficiaries. The final step involves the use of quit claim deeds, title transfers and other legal means to transfer all bequeathed property to the named beneficiary. The new property owners will need a copy of the probated will and death certificate to claim property.
It's important to keep your will up to date so that the probate process can proceed as smoothly as possible. Discuss your estate needs with an attorney, like David R Webb Attorney, as soon as possible.
Hello, I'm Phillip Kerr and I just love the legal profession and courtroom drama. Have you ever watched judge shows on TV? I know that these shows are not an accurate representation of the courtroom, but there is something you may have noticed. Some individuals come into the courtroom well-dressed, articulate, respectful and with the knowledge and documents necessary to support a case, while others come unprepared, slovenly dressed and appear as if they do not have a care in the world. How you present yourself and the knowledge that you have of the law will have an impact on how you are treated, even if you have legal representation. This blog is designed to assist those who are going to trial in doing just that.