Completed with or without a will, the probate process is essential to the valid and appropriate transfer of estate assets in the wake of an asset holder’s death.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the review, analysis, and transfer administration of estate assets that were formerly owned by a deceased person. The deceased’s estate encompasses all private holdings that contributed to that person’s net worth.
After applying the deceased’s assets to pay any outstanding liabilities, the entire estate is distributed to one or more inheritors during the probate process. These inheritors generally receive estate assets according to the stipulations of a legalized will and/or the laws of the state.
The probate process ensures that this is accomplished as accurately and efficiently as possible. When aided by clear and established documentation such as a legal will, this process can be extremely simple and affordable. However, complex and protracted probate procedures may become necessary in the absence of a legally recognized will or when the deceased’s estate is of exceptionally high value.
Probate With a Will
Probate legal proceedings are extremely common after the death of a person of high net worth even if that person left behind a will. These proceedings begin when a probate court appoints the executor named in the will (or another administrator if the will fails to stipulate a suitable executor). As a general rule, this probate court will be seated where the decedent resided at the time of his or her death. The exception to this general rule is real estate, which may require legal action where the assets are located.
Typically a family member of the deceased, the executor initiates the probate process by filing the will with the probate court, which confirms the authenticity and validity of this will. The executor is then responsible for estimating the value of the estate according to strict legal codes and government regulations and then overseeing the appropriate distribution of this estate. He or she accomplishes this under the guidance and supervision of the probate court.
Probate Without a Will
People who die without a legally valid will are considered to have passed away “instate.” In these cases, a probate court must get involved to distribute the deceased’s assets according to the laws of the state.
In the absence of a legally binding executor, the probate court appoints an administrator to function as one by paying off the deceased outstanding debts and receiving all legal claims against the estate. The court will then use state law and regulations to determine which remaining assets should be distributed among the deceased’s legal heirs and how best to distribute them.
To Learn More About Probate
If you are still unclear about the details of the probate process, contact a skilled and knowledgeable legal representative at Beasley & Ferber today. We can discuss what probate means to you and help ensure that your estate assets go exactly where you want them to go when you are no longer here to manage them.