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What You Need To Know

Probate is the court supervised process of identifying and gathering a person's assets after their death, paying all of their debts, and distributing the balance to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries. If an estate exceeds $100,000.00, and if the assets are in the name of the deceased person only, a probate will generally be required.

A Probate proceeding is used to establish that a will is genuine and valid. It is also used to transfer decedent’s assets after death to heirs or beneficiaries. A decedent is a person who has died with or without a will. A will is a document that expresses the wishes of the writer regarding who should handle his or her estate and how the assets should be distributed after death. Having a valid will does not keep an estate from going through probate. Dying without a will does not mean that an estate must always go through probate. Generally, when someone dies without a will, the estate is distributed to that person's spouse and /or children. A Decedent’s Estate is all real or personal property owned by the decedent on the date of death. Real Property is property in buildings and land. Personal Property is temporary or moveable, such as jewelry, clothing, keepsakes, or automobiles.

The amount of time it takes to administer a probate estate, and the cost of doing so will vary in each case. In a simple estate (house, car, bank account) where property does not need to be sold, a probate can be completed in six months or less. If an estate is more complicated, or if the heirs or beneficiaries cannot work together, administration could take much longer. Fees paid to the attorney and the executor or administrator vary according to the value of each estate, and the amount of extra work each must do to close the estate.

There are many situations where an estate does not require probate, including estates under $100,000.00, estates in trust, and those cases where all of the estate passes to a surviving spouse. Even when probate is not required, however, some sort of legal process is often necessary. This is especially true when an estate owns an interest in real property. Legal counsel is recommended if you have any questions regarding estate matters.


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