Probate Estate Administration

It’s often said, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes.” Well, death is certainly inevitable and with death comes the probate estate administration of the deceased person.

You may wonder exactly what probate means?

Probate is the legal process used to transfer your probate assets to your heirs when you pass away.

Non Probate Assets

The probate process only controls assets just in your name that do not otherwise pass to someone else at your death.  If you have assets that legally pass by operation of law some other way, they are not subject to your Will or probate.  For example, assume you own assets with someone else jointly with a right of survivorship.  Those assets pass to the other person immediately upon your death.  If you have assets with beneficiaries designated on them such as life insurance, annuities or retirement accounts the asset goes to the beneficiary directly and bypasses probate.

An Estate with a Valid Will

If you left a valid Will,  your executor will file your Will with the probate court to get letters testamentary.  The executor must give notice to potential heirs who have the right to object to the executor if they want to do so.  If so, the probate court will hold a hearing to decide whether to proceed.  If so, the court will issue the letters testamentary.  The executor will get the legal authority to process your estate and probate assets from the letters testamentary. Once the letters testamentary are issued the executor has several duties.  The executor must give notice to creditors, pay claims against your estate, gathers and manages assets, then makes distributions to heirs.  It is important to note that the executor is not personally liable for the debts of the estate.

Probate is a public process and takes many months and sometimes years to complete.  Depending on the level of agreement among the heirs and complexity of the estate, it could take several court hearings.

An Estate Without a Valid Will

Rrobate estate administration gets far more complicated and expensive if you do not leave a Will.

If you have no Will, someone will petition the probate court for letters of administration, then go about the business of settling your estate. The administrator will have to post a bond which can be expensive. The probate court is also more involved during an estate administration. The administrator of the estate prepares an inventory of the estate assets and reports back to the court, sometimes several times. All this is expensive, time-consuming, and, frankly, tedious.

With or Without Estate Planning.

Your estate will be settled. We can help make that process as painless as possible. We know the right estate planning tools to use to best avoid a lengthy probate estate administration.

Call us at 256-237-3339 or use our Contact Form to let us know you’re ready to develop your estate plan.