Probate does not have a great reputation. In fact, most are under the impression that it is a process you should avoid at all costs. While it can be a lengthy and costly process for your loved ones to navigate after your passing, the reality is that it might be necessary.
Furthermore, probate can be a beneficial process for some small estates. Thus, it is important that you fully understand what probate is before you put forth effort to completely avoid probate.
What is probate?
In simple terms, probate is a court-supervised proceeding where the assets of the deceased are retitled to their heirs. Probate is a legal proceeding that validates the last will of the decedent, if one exists, distributes the decedent’s assets to heirs according to the will or intestacy law if no will exist and ensures that the debts of the estate are paid.
When probate is necessary
Certain situations cause probate to be necessary. The first and most obvious situation is when an individual dies without a will. This is called dying intestate. Because the assets and property of the estate do not have beneficiary designation, the laws of intestacy apply. This means the heirs, in accordance with these laws, will receive the property of the decedent’s estate.
Even when a will exists, probate is still necessary. This is because the property awarded to their heirs needs to be retitled. The probate process allows for this.
Whether you are in the beginning phases of creating an estate plan, seek to modify a current plan or are administering an estate of a deceased, it is important to understand how probate can play a role in all of these phases. As such, it can help you better understand your options and how best to ensure your wishes are met following your death.