How does probate court work, and what does it mean for you? Moreover, can you avoid it?
Probate is a legal procedure that occurs after an individual’s demise. Its purpose is to review the deceased’s assets and distribute them to their rightful inheritors.
You can make this difficult process easier for your loved ones by creating an estate plan because it will help you establish your wishes. These documents will list your beneficiaries and executors.
This article will explain all you need to know about it.
What Is Probate?
It’s a legal proceeding where the court reviews the will to determine its validity and authenticity. It also refers to a legal process in which a deceased person’s estate is administered without a will. If you have a will, then your executor (the person charged with overseeing your final wishes) distributes your assets and belongings. During probate, all of your assets are valued and then located.
This procedure becomes more complicated when there’s no will. The court then handles all of the proceedings and makes decisions because there’s no documentation stating your final wishes. The court then appoints an administrator to collect assets, pay liabilities, and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries.
What Is the Process for Probate?
The process depends on if the deceased has a will or not. Once the court selects the executor or administrator, the rest of the process is the same.
A lawyer or an executor will submit the deceased’s death certificate to the court. This will start the probate process. Then the will is assessed and validated to see if it’s properly dated and signed. The will is considered authentic once this process is completed.
If the will is present, then the judge selects the executor named in the document to conduct probate. After that, the executor is responsible for distributing assets. The court decides a personal representative in cases where there is no will. Usually, the court selects your next of kin for this role.
Then they post a bond to protect the beneficiaries from any potential errors the personal representative or executor might make.
After that, an assessment is conducted to determine the value of the estate. This can involve a professional appraiser. Once that is settled, all debts and expenses, including the funeral, are paid. Finally, the remaining assets are distributed amongst the beneficiaries.
How Can You Avoid Probate?
There are ways to ensure that some property transfers to the beneficiaries without going through probate.
1. Set Up a Revocable Living Trust
This ensures that your property is not part of your probate estate. However, it still counts for federal estate tax purposes.
2. Gift Property
Giving away property when you’re alive can help you avoid probate because then it’s not yours anymore.
3. Title Property Jointly
It’s a simple way to avoid probate. When one of the owners dies, the property goes to the other joint-owner without probate.
An estate plan with the help of competent wills and trusts attorney can help you save your family.
At Marquez Law Offices, our property division attorneys and family law attorneys are aware of the various matters that need to be taken care of during estate and probate planning, ensuring minimal problems during the process.
If you’re looking for a general practice firm in Chico, CA, you can reach out to us today at Marquez Law Offices.