“Probate” is a court-supervised legal process that happens after someone dies. The purpose of probate is to make sure that the debts and taxes of the person who died are paid, if possible, and that the deceased’s assets are distributed according to how he or she intended.
- Assets: generally, only the assets belonging solely to the person who died are probated. Other assets can often be transferred outside of probate, such as real property held in survivorship (your deed will say “survivorship”), many assets with beneficiary designations such as retirement accounts and life insurance and assets held in a trust. These are just a few items on a long list.
- What starts the probate process? You file the deceased person’s will with your local county probate court. Then, a timeline begins ticking where you file certain documents within certain timeframes, creditors have a certain deadline by which they need to respond if the deceased had debts, etc.
- Do I need an attorney? It depends. If real property (house, land) is involved then hiring an attorney is highly recommended. If there are few assets, no real property, then perhaps an attorney might not be necessary. The attorney’s fees are paid by the estate.
- How long will the probate process take? It typically takes about nine months but can take longer if certain taxes are owed or if there is a will contest.
- What will I have to do as the Executor? File the will with the probate court, gather and safeguard the deceased’s assets, have assets appraised, pay final bills, and distribute assets.
Contact me if you need guidance or representation through the probate process at firstname.lastname@example.org.