To put it simply, probate is the legal process of distributing a person’s assets after their death. While asset is a general term, it could be anything from property to monies to precious heirlooms. The purpose of probate is to ensure the assets are distributed in accordance with the decedent’s wishes and state law. Often, this process can be confusing and very difficult, but here are four tips that serve as an aid.
- Have a Will: The most important document in the probate process is your will. A clearly defined will that describes exactly how all assets are to be distributed is invaluable to all the parties involved. It allows for the probate court to easily adhere to what is instructed, without any guess work. Also, you might be able to avoid probate entirely if you have a properly written and administered estate plan.
- Don’t Leave it to Chance: If a person dies without a will, the estate assets are under the State’s control to divide up according to their laws. This process can be very costly and time consuming and may leave rightful heirs out of a justified inheritance.
- Ensure the Will is Final: One of the problems that may arise in probate court is the discovery of a new or amended will. If this if found, it may take a lot of time and resources to validate the correct will. When examining your estate, ensure you have updated your will to be clear and final.
- Be Sure to Close the Estate: The final step in probate is to file the final accounting after all of the assets have been properly distributed. It is worth noting that probate documents are public record, so they may be found by anyone via an online search or any other means of obtaining public records. If privacy is a concern, consider a Revocable Living Trust.
Probate can be difficult and emotional when a loved one has died. Having a process to properly go through all of the legal steps can make it easier for the executor and beneficiaries. To avoid risks and difficulties, it is important to speak with a qualified financial advisor that will guide you through the complex process of probate.
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The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.