After working hard your entire life, you may have acquired a few properties, made some investments, and put savings on the bank. You'll surely want to take the prudent step of protecting these even after you die. You see, there are so many all-too-familiar stories of families breaking up and fighting over inheritance upon the death of the decedent. Some want more, while others find it hard to accept what they're left with so they battle it out legally in court. Perhaps you also have this fear that your assets will be mismanaged by the wrong heirs.
To avoid these cases from happening, estate planning for inheritance is a must. Once you have a will or an estate plan, then comes the probate process. These may all seem like foreign terms, but once you have a background on them, you'll have a brief understanding of what they are about. You have to be prepared in life, as death is an unavoidable reality, though with uncertain timing. The sudden risk of death is always there in kids and adults alike.
The following are some pointers on the inheritance and probate process.
A Brief Introduction On What Probate Is
Let's start with the basics. What is probate? In simpler terms, this refers to the legal process of administering the person's estate upon their death. For those with a will, probate is needed to prove that this will is legally valid.
Without a will, then the probate process will simply be reliant on the rules of intestate proceedings. This can differ from one state or another, so your estate lawyer should be well versed in this.
The Necessity Of Probate
While you might think that going through probate is needed, this isn't true in some cases. When there isn't any dispute to the terms and asset distribution of an existing will, then the heirs may receive their inheritance without going through probate.
Probate is necessary when there's a need to manage and distribute assets that aren't transferred by trust law, contract law, and your local state titling law. These are assets for inheritors who don't have a will.
The Importance Of Probate
Why is the probate process important when distributing inheritance? The reason is simple. The court has to ensure that the wishes of the deceased are carried out. In like manner, the probate process is also necessary to ensure that all assets and obligations left by the deceased are also covered and well taken care of.
The Different Terms To Know About Probate
A clear understanding of some terms will ensure that you won't have any questions that may cloud your knowledge of the probate process. These terms are as follows:
• A decedent refers to the deceased person whose estate is the subject of the probate process.
• Letters testamentary pertains to that document from the probate court authorizing a specifically named executor to start carrying out the orders in the will.
• An executor or personal representative is the person in charge of the instructions given in the will.
• Intestacy is the condition of dying without a prepared will or other binding declaration.
• An administrator is a court-appointed executor if the deceased died without a will.
What Doesn't Go Through The Probate Process
The probate process covers the state contract law, trust law, and property title law. These might include the following:
• Retirement funds, with your named beneficiaries
• All trust properties
• Properties held as tenancy, with entirety
• Life insurance policies, with named beneficiaries
• Properties held as tenancy, with rights of survivorship
The Beginning Of The Probate Process
Probate begins when a petition is filed in court to open probate for an estate after its owner has died. Along with filing this petition, that person who filed in court will also have to show a copy of the original will and the death certificate of the deceased.
You could either be the testator or decedent reading this, or an heir of inheritance from your deceased parents. Whatever the scenario may be, you must be knowledgeable of the probate process. This article has briefed you on the basics you need to know about inheritance and probate. It's up to you to exert that effort and begin the work if you've got the proper materials with you. Choose a lawyer with years of experience handling the same cases to walk you through each of the needed steps in this legal and court-mandated process. It's a complex one, but at least now you've got a sound foundation of what to expect.