Many people are not aware of what happens to their estate and assets after they die. But the process can be quite complex, especially if you do not have a will in place. After someone dies, their estate goes through the probate process, which is a somewhat lengthy process of authenticating the last will and testament or going through someone’s estate if they do not have a will. The process is designed to identify the wishes of the person who has died, pay back their debts and distribute their estate.
Probate Process Outline
This process is court-supervised and often quite time consuming and expensive. Each state has its own laws regarding probate, but generally most estates must go through this process in some respect. A general outline of the steps included in this process are:
- Authenticating the will
- Appointing an executor (if one has not been appointed by the writer of the will)
- Locating all assets
- Determining the value of these assets
- Identifying and notifying creditors
- Pay back debts
- Preparing and filing taxes
- Distributing estate to beneficiaries
As you can see, there are multiple steps before you get to distributing the estate, some of which can take weeks or months to carry out.
During this process, there is also room for arguments, contention and challenging the estate. These issues can delay the process even further. However, secure estate planning and an experienced estate planning attorney can help expedite this process, reduce costs, avoid issues and in some cases, avoid the process entirely. These are just some of the benefits of creating an estate plan before the probate process is even a thought. Contacting an experienced estate planning and probate administration attorney can help you get a better understanding of the process and your situation.