Most individuals understand that they need a will or trust in place in order to ensure that their assets go to whom they want them to go to upon their death. However, many individuals do not understand what goes on beyond the creation of their estate planning documents or, more specifically, how the directions of their will are carried out after death. When an individual dies, their estate goes through a process called “probate,” which is the legal process of transferring over a deceased individual’s assets upon their death. Probate serves many purposes, including ensuring that all debts are paid off, that the will is distributed according to the deceased’s wishes, and that fraudulent behavior does not occur.
What Does the Probate Process Entail?
When a will is contested, the proceedings can become a bit more complicated, and typically require aggressive legal assistance to ensure that all beneficiaries receive what is rightfully theirs. However, when a will or estate planning document – such as a trust – is uncontested, probate is a fairly quick and pain free process. The probate process of an uncontested will usually involves the following:
- The Collection Of All Property Of The Decedent
- Paying Off All Debts, Claims & Taxes Owned By The Estate
- Collection Of All Rights To Income
- Settling Of All Disputes
- Distribution Or Transfer Of The Remaining Property To The Heirs
Before he or she passes, the deceased will appoint an individual to manage their affairs upon their death. This person is known as the executor of an estate. The executor of an estate is charged with the responsibility of overseeing each of the above duties. A will cannot be executed without an executor, so if the decedent did not appoint an individual prior to their death, the court will appoint one.
Probate can get much more complex than what is described above. For instance, for larger estates, the decedent’s will is not always the only document that the executor must adhere to. Some states require a certain percentage of an estate to go to spouses and children. Each state has its own estate tax guidelines that must be taken into consideration as well.
Consult an Oklahoma City Probate Attorney
Because probate is never cut and dry, it is a good idea to consult with a probate lawyer prior to probating a will. At Jim A. Lyon Law Firm, our Oklahoma City probate attorneys truly enjoy making sense out of the probate process for our clients. Probate can be full of legal and technical issues, many of which families are either ill equipped or too concerned with other matters to handle on their own. We aim to make probate as easy as possible for you. If you and your family need assistance in probating the will of a deceased loved one, call 405-843-0461 to schedule a private consultation with our probate lawyers today.