A Quick Guide to Probate

Probate refers to the legal process that tackles the legal and financial affairs of the deceased. The process includes identifying, cataloging, and appraising the decedent’s property. It also entails payment of taxes and debts all dues are paid.

The process sounds difficult enough, especially since the intent is to prove that a decedent’s will is a valid. There are cases that will call for the experience and expertise of a legal professional. But EZ-Probate.com shares that in certain instances, you can process an estate without turning to an attorney. As such, it’s important to know the basics of probating.

When Are Probates Necessary?

The necessity of probate depends on the laws of the state where the deceased lived at the time of death. Basically, the purpose of probate is to prevent fraud after someone dies.

Probate is necessary even with an existing will. This clarifies the title for the property of an estate. Everything within the property previously owned by the deceased at the time of death is up for probate: furniture, jewelry, and artwork, included.

Other circumstances that need to undergo the legal process include:

  • No will exists
  • There are inconsistencies with the existing will
  • The assets are solely under in the decedent’s name

Assets That Could Pass Without Probate

There are assets that do not need to go through the process of probate. An example is in the case of a joint tenancy where a joint tenant dies and the surviving individual takes ownership of the asset without going through a legal process. You may also refer to this as “right of survivorship.”

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Other assets that would not require probate are retirement accounts and life insurance policies. By the time the policy owner dies, its beneficiaries will be the recipients of the assets in the account or its proceeds.

Probates take time, anywhere from a few weeks or months to years. It may take a whole lot longer if the heirs decide to oppose the validity of the will or will contents include assets that are hard to value (e.g., mineral rights, patents). The wrong executor or administrator can also hold up the probate process.

Proving the validity of a will can be difficult. But with adequate knowledge and sufficient guidance, you can probate a will with little to no stress.