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Probate is the process of settling the estate of a deceased person.  If the estate is beyond a certain size and not structured properly, it may need to be settled among the heirs in probate court.

In most states, when a person dies the assets of that person become the property of the surviving spouse without the need for probate.  In states where this is not automatic and for smaller estates, property such as real estate, cars, bank accounts, etc. can be held in joint tenancy between the spouses so the surviving spouse will immediately receive ownership.  Everyone who has a positive net worth should at the very least keep a will naming a primary and secondary beneficiary to avoid potential problems in probate and to make sure their assets pass to the persons they wish.

In the will the estate holder names an executor to execute the terms of the will and handle the distribution of the estate's assets.  If there is no will and assets exist that are not held in joint tenancy, a probate court will decide who receives those assets and will appoint an administrator to distribute and close the estate.

Probate Procedure

Property of the deceased held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship or other property that contractually passes to another after death in most cases will pass without the need for probate.  These can include bank accounts, real estate, automobiles, proceeds from insurance policies on the deceased and property held in living trusts.

For assets that go to probate, the court collects and inventories the assets of the deceased and pays any outstanding debts and taxes out of the assets.

Even with a will, there may be disputes during the probate process.  A claim on the estate can be made to the probate court by anyone including potential heirs unhappy with the property that they were willed or, more likely, not willed.  The court will determine the validity of any such claims.

Avoiding Probate

An estate in probate can take months to settle and distribute the assets to the proper heirs to the estate.  It can also incur a large expense in legal and court fees that reduces the size of the eventual estate.

Many people use living trusts to avoid having assets go into probate.  Upon death of the trust's owner, the trust is instructed to transfer ownership of the assets in the trust to the intended heir.  Such trusts may avoid some estate taxes but once setup are irrevocable.

Unfortunately, multi-million dollar estates (under current law) are subject to federal estate taxes.  Property included in the tax calculation include property held in living trusts, life insurance proceeds and most other estate assets net of liabilities.  Some trusts may be able to avoid estate taxation, "the death tax", but laws are constantly changing and the advice of legal counsel is necessary to properly structure such instruments.


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Probate For Estate Of Ona Gabriel Hastings Star Gazette
Probate for Estate of Ona Gabriel Hastings Star Gazette It is Ordered and Notice is given that on Sept. 14, 2017, at 9 a.m., a hearing will be held in this Court at Dakota County Gov39t Center, 1560 Highway 55, Hastings, MN 55033, for the formal probate of an instrument purporting to be the Will of the

Bonnie Kraham: Importance Of Funding A Trust Times HeraldRecord
Bonnie Kraham: Importance of funding a trust Times Herald Record By avoiding probate, you save time and money, reduce the risk of family disputes over the inheritance, and keep your estate planning private. Wills are public documents when submitted to probate. Trusts are private documents. Also, a will takes effect

Nationwide Status Of Probate Pauls Valley Daily Democrat
Nationwide status of probate Pauls Valley Daily Democrat Distribution of estate assets can be delayed. C. Probate can be expensive, although in Oklahoma the legal costs will normally be less than 10,000. The reaction or possible overreaction to concerns about probate has influenced legislators in many

Probate Judge Owen Eagan, West Hartford Libraries To Cohost Legal Education E...
Probate Judge Owen Eagan, West Hartford Libraries to co host legal education events West Hartford News Open to the public and completely free of charge, the four part series, called De mystifying Probate and Estate Planning, will feature panels of local legal experts offering guidance related to probate issues such as wills and estates

Appeals Court Clarifies Attorney Fees Issue In Probate Case WisBar
WisBar Appeals Court Clarifies Attorney Fees Issue in Probate Case WisBar Stat. section 879.37 says that a court may order reasonable attorney fees out of the estate to the prevailing party in all appealable contested matters. In Hartshorne v. Hurkman, 2016AP387 Aug. 9, 2017, a three judge panel for the District 2

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Facts of Law covering estate probate law

Facts of Law - Estate Probate