If you don’t have an estate plan in place, your estate will have to go through probate. Even though you won’t be around when your estate goes through probate, It’s important that you understand how it works. To keep it simple, think of probate as having two main parts:
- Figuring out what debts you owe, and paying them from your estate.
- Transferring assets to your beneficiaries.
A state court called the probate court oversees the probate process. What this means is that the final decision about what happens to your estate is left up to the court. If you don’t have a will, the judge will assign your estate an “executor.” The executor is the person responsible for filing paperwork with the courts to prove debts, assets, etc. The process may go as follows:
- Swearing in your personal representative or “Executor.”
- Notifying concerned parties about the death.
- Inventorying your property including assets and liabilities.
- Distributing your estate according to laws and your desires.
All of this is overseen by the courts, and nothing happens without permission. Sometimes this can mean a family is unable to access assets for a time while any probate matters are settled. It can also make things difficult when the desires of the deceased person are unknown.
It’s always very important to involve a probate attorney in your case. The probate lawyers at our law offices are very experienced in quickly and efficiently resolving probate matters. We know the laws about who can and who can not file claims, receive assets, how to speed up the process, and how to best represent the clients at probate court.
Perhaps most importantly, an experienced probate attorney can help provide clear guidance in a challenging time and serve as an impartial party in what can be a very conflicted family situation. If you have concerns about the probate process, or if you don’t want to handle it alone, call us today.