What Is Probate?

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You may have heard about the probate process at one point or another. When you went to draw up your estate plan initially, your attorney may have mentioned something about it, but you may not have paid much attention. Now that you are dealing with the death of a close relative, however, the need to understand probate is critical. Does every will need to go through the court, or can some be administered without it? Understanding the process and what is required is one way to get more comfortable with it.

Probate Basics

There is no one-size-fits-all guideline to probate as each state has its own process. However, the general idea is probate is a court process that a will goes through to ensure the decedent’s wishes are followed. It is a guide for those in charge of administering the will to help them in knowing what steps to take and when to take them. In this way, probate is helpful, especially if the administrator is not an attorney.

Steps of Probating a Will

If your state law requires the will to go through probate, the first step is filing a notice of the will according to your local guideless. This begins the process. Once the court acknowledges the will and accepts the executor, the basic steps include:

  • Accounting of all assets
  • Identification of debts and beneficiaries
  • Notify creditors
  • Pay valid debts
  • Notify beneficiaries
  • Disburse remaining estate to beneficiaries according to the will

Once these steps occur and the estate has been distributed fully, the executor provides an accounting of the estate to the court and requests that the probate process be closed. The court then proceeds accordingly.

Issues That May Arise During Probate

People may incorrectly believe that their will ensures that their money and property gets divided the exact way they indicate. In some cases, this occurs, but in others, it doesn’t. The first thing an executor has to do is pay any valid debts. If these debts are numerous, the executor may have to sell property and liquidate assets counter to the instructions in the will. Therefore, when drafting a will, it is crucial to keep the amount of your debt in mind when making decisions about what to leave to your heirs.

When planning for your family after your death, keeping the probate process in mind is critical. It may help you decide the best way to get your beneficiaries the money and property you want them to have. A probate lawyer in Folsom, CA is an excellent resource for helping you leave your family in good financial shape after your death.

Thanks to the Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning and probate.