What is Probate?
Probate is a legal proceeding primarily used to transfer title of assets from a deceased person to the proper recipient, and allow for creditors to make claims against the estate for money owed. It provides for the administration of one's estate.
Other matters are also handled in Probate court, like guardianships for minors or disabled adults. These are typically legal proceedings used to allow the Court to monitor the use of funds available to a minor or disabled adult, so that they may ensure that fund are being used properly.
We have many years of experience handling all types of probate matters. These are generally billed on an hourly basis, as it is usually difficult to determine, in advance, the total amount of time and expenses that will be incurred in administering an estate.
The person designated in a will (Executor) or appointed by the Court if there is no will (Administrator), is the person or persons in charge of handling the estate. Typically, the Executor or Administrator (either may be referred to as the "Personal Representative" ) is the point person of the entire process. Think of the Attorney as the director, assisting the Personal Representative in getting everything completed in a correct, quick and efficient manner.
What is a Probate Asset?
Only assets that are titled in the name of the deceased person alone, with no designated beneficiary or joint owner, are "probate" assets. If the deceased person has a life insurance contract and had named a beneficiary to the policy, that beneficiary (by contract) is legally entitled to the proceeds of the life insurance policy without any need for probate. The same is true if the deceased person was a joint owner of any property or account. The surviving joint owner(s) become the sole owner(s) at the death of the deceased person, again without any need for probate.
Isn't Probate Supposed to be a Nightmare?
It doesn't have to be. Of course, if there is a dispute regarding the will or other disputes between the family, probate proceedings may be lengthy and expensive. If everyone is in agreement and on the "same page", probate should be an orderly and efficient way to resolve all matters.
How May My Family Avoid Probate of My Estate When I Pass?
Using proper Estate Planning will allow your family to avoid the Probate of your estate.