Are you about to go through probate to settle a loved one's estate? If so, you likely have some questions about what this legal process entails.
What Exactly Is Probate?
If you do not know much about what probate is, know that it is a process that's supervised by the court system to distribute the assets of an estate after someone passes away. It is necessary to legally transfer ownership of assets, property, and money to the beneficiaries of the estate.
What Happens During Probate?
For estates that have a will, the will is validated by the court so that assets can be distributed according to the wishes of the person that passed away. The process should be straightforward as long as nobody contests the validity of the will. For example, someone may claim that the will is outdated.
If there is no will going into the probate process, an executor will be named by the court to determine how the estate will be distributed to beneficiaries. It is typical for a close family member to be named the executor and handle all of the legal details of the case.
How Long Does Probate Take?
The length of probate will depend on if there is a will and if the will is contested. If everything is in order, the process may only take a couple of months to settle in court. However, a contested estate can take years to finally settle. Another factor that can add to the length of the probate process is if there is a business that was owned by the person that passed away. In general, uncontested estates with a will, a couple of bank accounts, and one or two major pieces of property do not take that long to go through probate.
Can Probate Be Avoided?
While there are ways to avoid the probate process, these steps need to happen before a person passes away. By creating a trust that all of their assets are put into, those assets will have already changed hands and belonged to the trust before someone passed away. Therefore, there is nothing that has to go through the probate process to distribute. Assets already belong to the trust and can be distributed to beneficiaries in that way.
Do you still have questions about the probate process? Reach out to a probate attorney in your area for their assistance. They'll walk you through the entire process from start to finish.