What is Probate
Probate is the legal process of executing will of a deceased person involving the resolution of claims and distribution of property of the deceased as per the will. A probate court supervises all the activities ranging from establishing validity of the will to the final execution of the will.
Probate process starts with sending information about the execution to the creditors and beneficiaries. Legal notices are also published to maximize the reach of the information. Executors of the will are guided about the distribution of assets and the settlement of creditors’ rights.
A probate court is designated to resolve the matters relate to probate. These courts are very friendly and do not necessarily require parties to appoint an attorney to solve the disputes. All types of properties need not go through the procedure of probate. Transferring of joint account contents to survivor and property in joint name requires no probate of the will.
Probate lawyers are of great help in understanding the intricacies of property acquisition procedures. If a person dies without making a will, then such situation is known as intestate. In this situation seeking lawyer help is of great value in tackling this situation.
Documents like insurance policies, death certificates, copy of marriage license, birth certificates of children etc are very helpful in probing the will. In U.S. if a person dies without a will, then a portion of estate automatically goes to surviving spouse. To determine the good will of executor of the will, fidelity bond needs to be submitted by the executor.
Probate is carried out to establish the identity of heirs. It also helps in settling paternity cases. However, it is not always necessary that property is to be passed to biological heirs. In some situations, estate rights can be given to non-biological heirs also as per the statements made in the will.
Probate is a lengthy process and may require months to settle the heritance disputes. Use of pre-designated beneficiaries as in case of many IRA products can help avoid getting into probate. Also, appointment of nominee at the time of opening bank accounts or practice of opening joint accounts is also an easy way to avoid getting into the intricacies of probate administration.
Probate attorneys may charge a percentage of value of claim to bail you out of the probate of the will procedure. This makes probate of the will a costly process. But attorney’s advice becomes really valuable when the claim is to be settled in intestate situation.
One of the popular ways to avoid probate is execution of living trust. Trust is created by appointing a caretaker who takes care of the estate and property on behalf of beneficiaries. This concept should be practiced only when you have a handful of really trustable people.