When a person dies with only a Will or with no Will at all, Probate is the legal process in which the person’s debts and assets are paid and distributed. Probate is a Court supervised process which is handled by a Personal Representative, often a close family member.
The Probate process will often require the Personal Representative to take some or all of the following steps, often while the Personal Representative is grieving the loss of a loved one:
- Interviewing and hiring an attorney or law firm to help guide the process;
- Locating and filing the deceased persons Will;
- Protecting, inventorying, and assessing the value of the assets;
- Identifying and notifying the deceased person’s creditors;
- Identifying and notifying potential heirs and beneficiaries;
- Paying final claims and debts, and protecting against improper claims;
- Resolving disputes among beneficiaries or heirs; and
- Any other duties necessary to conclude the deceased person’s affairs.
The cost and complexity of the Probate process varies based upon wealth and the extent of pre-planning which was done, if any.
Disposition without administration may be available when the decedent leaves only personal property exempt from creditor claims and where the value of nonexempt personal property does not exceed the sum of the amount of preferred funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses incurred in the last 60 days of the decedent’s last illness.
Summary administration is available where the decedent’s remaining assets are valued at less than $75,000; or when the decedent has been dead for more than 2 years.
Formal administration occurs when the decedent’s estate cannot be disposed does not through summary administration or without administration. Formal administration is the most formal, lengthy and expensive process. This procedure also has the potential to consume the assets of the decedent’s estate, taking proceeds and inheritance the decedent intended for their heirs, away from their heirs.
Can we Avoid Probate?
Yes, generally. Probate can often be minimized or completely avoided, but this requires an up to date and appropriate Estate Plain. Many people begin the Estate Planning process after going through a Probate following the death of a parent or loved one and realize they do not want to subject their own family to the same experience. Minimizing or avoiding the time, stress and expense associated with a Probate Administration is often one of the primary points of emphasis and discussion with new clients.
Holbrook Law will help you develop and create the appropriate Estate Plan to avoid or minimize the need for probate.