What You Need To Know About Probate

Estate planning is essential for everyone, even if you do not think you have many assets to deal with. Before you make an estate plan, you need to fully understand probate so your family does not have any issues with your estate once you pass away. The following is some helpful information about probate:

What Does Probate Mean?

Probate is a process under the law that facilitates the distributions of a person's assets and estate after he or she passes away. The distribution will go to anyone who you deem beneficiaries. Your estate will also settle any debts you may have.

How Does Probate Work?

There are several steps to probate. There has to be a designated person who acts as the administrator of your state. If you left a will, the administrator will also act as the will executor. If you do not leave a will or you do not name an administrator, the probate court chooses someone for your estate.

Secondly, the will has to be proven in court as to its validity. Each state has its own rules for this process. Some states require certain signatures and notarizations to prove it is valid.

Next, your estate has to be inventoried and identified. No assets can go to any beneficiary or sold until the probate process is over. Property appraisal happens at this time also. Any creditors you have will receive payments during this time, if applicable. Anything left will then be distributed to the beneficiaries.

What If You Do Not Leave a Will?

If you did not leave a will or if you did not list all your assets in a will, probate will decide where the estate goes. Probate also allows for anyone to challenge the will, at which time the court will determine the rightful beneficiaries of the estate.

Does Probate Cost Anything?

There are legal fees associated with probate. There are also court fees that have to be paid. If you do not leave enough money in your estate, the executor will have to pay the fees. You can opt to start a living trust to specifically pay for your probate fees and make the process easier for everyone.

Is Anything Off-Limits in Probate?

There are some assets that cannot go through probate. Some examples include life insurance policies that have beneficiaries, any real estate that has multiple names attributed to it, and any bank accounts with a beneficiary named.

For more information, check out companies like the Law Offices of Wayne A. Pederson