In general, the probate process is simple and straightforward. First, the deceased person’s personal representative to the estate is identified. If no person has been specifically chosen by the deceased person’s will, then the court will appoint someone for this responsibility. The next step is to inform creditors and heirs of the death, usually as a notice of death in the local newspaper. This informs the creditors that the probate process has been started and they would have to contact both the estate’s personal representative as well as any probate lawyers helping with the probate process. The third step is to create an inventory listing all the assets of the deceased person’s estate. This is done so that the total value of the estate can be determined to find out if there will be enough money left to pay all debts. Once this is accomplished, then the deceased person’s assets would be distributed, first to creditors, followed by funeral expenses, outstanding debts and taxes, and all remaining claims. The last step would be to distribute assets to the heirs. All of these steps could be achieved with the help of a probate lawyer.
An Estate Without A Will
There is a misconception that estates with no will attached to them will not undergo the probate process. In reality, all estates will be probated, unless there exists a living will that gives specific instructions and/or assets have been transferred before the death of the deceased person. The existence of a traditional will could help make the probate process easier. Moreover, the will lets the surviving family members or friends know how the deceased person wants his/her estate to be processed. If there were no will, the legal system would take over and determine who gets what from the deceased person’s estate. An experienced probate attorney could provide professional guidance on how to execute the probate process.
Owning Property In Different States
There are cases when the deceased person actually owned different properties in different states, or if the deceased owned property in one state while living in another state. This could complicate the probate process because this could mean there would be two probate processes going on at the same time in different places. An experienced probate lawyer could also make the probate process easier to handle.
Handling Jointly Owned Items
The probate actually does not technically cover all items that used to belong to the deceased person. If the deceased shared owning a house with his/her spouse, who is still living, then this house would not be included in the probate process and thus labeled non-probate property. This means the house would not be part of the collection of assets that would be distributed to creditors, the state (for taxes) and heirs. Only property that was solely owned by the deceased person would qualify and be included in the person’s estate and probate process. Once more, if the deceased person owned many properties or items with various other people (for example, in cases of multiple marriages and divorces), the probate process could become more complicated, so hiring a probate lawyer might be prudent.
Categories: Real Estate