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Probates, Probate Alternatives, and Summary Probate Proceedings

What Is Probate?

Probate is defined as a legal process during the review of a will, determining its validity and authenticity. Probate is also known as the administration of the deceased will or their estate if there is no will involved. 

When the asset-holder has passed away, the court is able to appoint either an administrator or an executor that has been named in the will. This includes the collection of the deceased assets in order to pay for potential remaining liabilities and the distribution of assets to beneficiaries of an estate. 

Probate Overview, Simplified: 

  • An easily authenticated will or use of investment vehicles not required to use probate can help individuals with avoidance of probate complexities and costs. 
  • Generally, the existence of a will is a focal point in probate. 
  • Probate allows for the review of a deceased person’s assets and determining inheritors. 
  • Upon death, probates are not necessarily required, yet are essential with high-value estates. 

How Does Probate Work?

A probate court reviews the deceased assets upon death, analyzing and transferring administration of their assets. The ultimate ruling of property distribution and division is provided by a probate court. In most cases, appropriate documentation has already been established by the deceased, which includes instructions for property distribution once they have passed away. Unfortunately, there are cases in which a will is non-existent. 

Probate that Involves a Will 

A testator is defined as a deceased individual that has provided a will before death. Once they have passed away, the will’s executor, who typically also acts as the financial advisor, is then responsible to initiate the actual process of probate. Executors must file the will within a probate court, initiating the probate process, which then authenticates and validates the will as the deceased last testament. The will allows for the designation of a court-approved executor or legal representative. The executor is then charged with gathering and overseeing all of the deceased assets. They then estimate the estate’s value and pay off the remaining debt or taxes owed by the deceased. Executors are also responsible for the filing of income tax returns on behalf of the deceased. 

Probate that does not Involve a Will

If a person has passed away and does not have a will, they are known as having died intestate. Probate courts distribute their assets according to state laws. Administrators appointed by probate court proceeds, oversee the deceased estate. Functioning as executor, administrators pay off outstanding debts and receives any legal claims against the estate. Administrators also contact heirs, including surviving spouses, parents, and children. It is up to the probate court to determine the distribution of assets among the heirs. If there are no heirs, all assets go to the state, known as escheatment. 

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Is Probate a Requirement

When a will is not in the picture, probate can be a costly and timely process. It is better to avoid probate by putting a will in place before one passes away. Probate can be bypassed if beneficiaries are initiated through contractual terms. Designated beneficiaries will not need probate for proceeds from life insurance, IRA’s, and other such plans. The use of a trust is another way to bypass probate. Funds from trusts can immediately pass to inheritors upon one’s death. 

Finding the right attorney to assist you with these matters does not have to be difficult.

Cannon Legal Firm comes with years of experience in the matters of probate

and will act in your best interest.

Get started now with a free 30-minute zoom or phone consultation.