WHAT IS PROBATE
Feb. 21, 2023
Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, including collecting and distributing assets to beneficiaries and paying any taxes or debts that may be due. In other words, it is the process of wrapping up a person's affairs after they have passed away.
The probate process begins when a person passes away, but it can take months or even years to conclude depending on the complexity of the estate. A representative of the estate should petition the probate court in the county of residence of the deceased, or the county in which the deceased own property. The probate court will then approve the appointment of a personal representative to handle all financial matters on behalf of the deceased. This representative is typically referred to as the executor or administrator of the estate.
The personal representative’s primary responsibility is to pay off any debts that are owed by the deceased, such as unpaid taxes or medical bills. After this has been done, assets can then be distributed according to the deceased's wishes as expressed in their will.
If there was no will in place at the time of death, state law will determine how assets should be distributed among surviving family members. Assets with designated beneficiaries (life insurance policies, retirement accounts) are dispersed directly according to contractual arrangements between the deceased and their beneficiaries.
Probate also addresses other matters such as funeral costs and closing out accounts like bank accounts and credit cards. All these details must be carefully handled before an estate can be considered closed.
While probate may seem daunting for those going through it, seeking professional help can make things easier and ensure that all relevant procedures are properly followed. Working with experienced attorneys who specialize in probate law can help make sure that everything goes smoothly and according to plan during this difficult time.
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