The probate process involves a complicated body of laws. As a result, many individuals who find themselves involved in the probate process have a number of question about how the process works. This article will discuss some of the most frequently asked questions about probate.

Question 1: What Does Probate Mean?

Probate refers to the legal process after a person dies and concerns how that person’s assets and debts are handled. This process involves distributing the remaining property in a will, establishing that a deceased individual’s will is valid, identifying the deceased person’s assets and debts, and paying debts and taxes owed by the deceased person.

Question 2: How Long Does the Probate Process Take?

Probate takes at least six months to complete. Many individuals discover that the process ends up taking a year or a year and a half before probate is concluded and assets are passed to beneficiaries.

Question 3: What Happens During Probate if a Person Has No Will?

If the deceased person did not have a will, then an administrator must first petition the court. Next, an attorney often helps those closest to the deceased person proceed through the process by following the statutes that guide the division of the person’s assets. The individuals who are able to petition the court for probate must be considered “interested” persons in the eye of the law, which means that these individuals must have a lawful claim to the deceased individual’s estate. 

Question 4: What is an Executor?

An executor is a person who is nominated in a will to probate a person’s estate and handle the various issues that arise. If a will does not exist, the individual who will probate the estate is called an Administrator.

Question 5: Is All Property Required to Pass Through Probate?

No, not all property is required to pass through probate. Many states allow a certain amount of property to avoid the probate process. Additionally, property that passes outside a person’s will is not required to go through the probate process.

Question 6: Should Parties Plan to Avoid Probate?

The probate process frequently reduces the amount of assets that are available in a person’s estate and often takes a great deal of time for assets to be passed to beneficiaries. There are various factors, however, that influence whether a person should plan to avoid probate which include the individual’s age, health, and wealth. Individuals who are older than 50 and who own a large amount of property often find it beneficial to plan to avoid probate.

Question 7: Is an Estate Planning Attorney Essential for Probate?

If you are involved in the probate process, it is often a wise idea to contact a skilled lawyer. Probate has the potential to be a very complicated process and involves a unique body of laws. An attorney can make sure that obstacles are successfully avoided and that beneficiaries receive the maximum amount from an estate possible. Attorney Jim A Lyon has assisted many individuals in a variety of probate and estate administration issues. Contact attorney Lyon’s office today to schedule an initial free consultation.