It is always challenging when someone you care about passes away. Not only does your heart feel empty, but you also have to figure out how to navigate through the unanswered questions in regards to the decedent’s financial standing and property. If there is any uncertainty, probate may be the answer to help everything run smoothly. We share information about probate to help those who may be in this position.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process that locates and determines the value of a decedent’s assets, pays their final bills and taxes, and distributes the remainder of the estate to their rightful beneficiaries. The person named as an executor in the will or the person appointed by a judge (if no will exists) files papers in the local probate court. The executor will prove the validity of the will and then will present the court with lists of the decedent’s property, debts, and information regarding who will inherit the rest of what is left. Once this occurs, relatives and creditors will then be officially notified of the decedent’s assets.
The probate process can take a few months to a year, or more. Depending on information included in the will and the number of debts, the executor may have to decide whether or not to sell real estate, securities, or other property. In most states, immediate family members may ask the court to release short-term support funds to them in the meantime while the probate proceedings are taking place. Once the debts and taxes are paid, the rest of the funds will be divided amongst the people or organizations named in the will, and any property will be transferred to its new owners.
When Is Probate Needed?
Depending on the state that you live in, there are specific laws in place to determine what is required to probate an estate. These laws will be included in the estate’s “probate codes,” as well as laws for “intestate succession,” when a person passes away without a will.
If there was not a will in place, probate is still required in order to pay the decedent’s final bills and properly distribute their estate. Even though the rules vary by state, the steps of probate are generally very similar, even if a will does not exist.
Have more questions regarding probate?
Marcia L. Campbell, CPA is committed to helping each client plan for the personal and financial decisions that need to be made for the future. Marcia’s team has a genuine interest in your well-being and a well-established list of services to help guide you through this process.
If you need help, please contact us by filling out our Contact Form or by giving our office a call at +1(951)686-3608.