What Is Probate?

What is probate? Today, the Meurer Law Offices in Denver offer important information on probate, so you know how you or your family may be affected by it. In essence, probate is a legal process that ensures a deceased person’s estate is distributed to appropriate heirs and beneficiaries. Probate laws vary state by state, but usually, probate property is dispersed according to the deceased’s will or according to the state’s laws if there is no will. However, there are exceptions and complications that can arise.

Steps in Probate

While each state is unique, the steps listed here can help answer the question, what is probate?

  • If there is a will that named an administrator, that person will be appointed as the will’s executor. If there was no will, the state will determine who will administer the estate.
  • The court will determine whether the will is valid. Because each state has different requirements for wills, it is important to ensure that the will follows state laws and requirements carefully.
  • Identification and inventory of the deceased person’s property are completed. It is important to understand that most assets cannot be distributed or sold without completion of the probate process.
  • The deceased person’s debts and taxes due are paid.
  • All property is appraised.
  • Any remaining assets are disbursed according to the will or state law.

What Happens When There is No Will?

Without a will and designated beneficiaries, the court oversees the process of distributing the remaining assets. The probate process is also public and allows wills to be contested in court and the court then determines who should legally become the beneficiary of the assets that are being questioned.

Length of the Process

On average, the probate process may take six to nine months from the time the case is opened in court. If there are disputes over the will or assets, then the probate process can be extended over years. There are also court fees and other costs incurred by the probate process. These fees become the responsibility of the executor of the estate if the fee cannot be covered by the estate. To avoid the probate process and the associated fees, many people place their assets in a living trust.

If you want to determine if you need a will or a living trust, come see us here at the Meurer Law Offices in Denver. We can help you determine what would be best for your situation, your beneficiaries and your estate.

Property Not Included in Probate

Non-probate assets include life insurance policies with a designated beneficiary and bank accounts that either are held jointly or that have a beneficiary who must be paid upon death are not included in a probate process. Jointly held real estate will also be excluded from the probate process.

Now that you know what is probate, you can see the burden it might create. So, if you would like to avoid the complications of probate for your beneficiaries, contact us here at the Meurer Law Office in Denver. We can help you with sensible estate planning that protects your lifetime of hard work.

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