Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person’s estate is properly distributed to their heirs and designated beneficiaries and any debt owed to creditors is paid off. Typically, during this process, property is distributed according to the decedent’s last will and testament (if there is one) or according to state law if a will does not exist.
The probate process typically includes the following…
- Administrator is appointed – If there is a will, then then administrator would have been chosen ahead of time and is referred to as an executor. If there is no will or no executor named in the will, the probate court will appoint someone of its choice to act as the administrator.
- Validity is proven in court – State law governs the probate process, so it is important to follow state requirements for signatures, witnesses, and/or notaries to be certain your will is valid.
- Property is identified and inventoried – When an individual has passed away, then their assets will need to be identified, inventoried, and distributed accordingly. Most assets cannot be sold or distributed until the probate process is complete.
- Properties are appraised
- Any debts or taxes owed by the deceased are paid
- Remaining assets are distributed – The remaining assets are distributed according to the decedent’s wishes (if there is a will) or according to state law (if there is not a will).
According to the American Bar Association, the whole process, on average, takes six to nine months after a probate case is opened with the court. This can vary depending on the court. Some litigation may take years; especially if there are disputes over legality of the will or distribution of assets. In addition, there may be costs associated with the probate process (such as court fees), the responsibility for which may land on the executor of the decedent’s will if they cannot be paid by the estate.
There is no doubt about it; the probate process can be overwhelming and often daunting. That is where a qualified attorney can make all the difference. Our primary aim is to avoid the probate process whenever possible; allowing assets to be distributed to heirs in a timely manner. We will help you plan ahead so that your assets and final wishes are carried out without issue. And, if necessary, we will help you through every step of the litigation process; with honesty and transparency throughout.
The amazing team at Beyer, Pongratz, and Rosen are here to help you and your heirs through the probate process. Request a Consultation or contact us, directly, at 916-369-9750 to get started. We look forward to hearing from you.