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Probate

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 News
GN News

Beneficiaries Of Multiparty Accounts May Be Tapped For Estate Debts The Glen...
The Glen Rose Reporter Beneficiaries of multi party accounts may be tapped for estate debts The Glen Rose Reporter Percy B. left all the cash assets in his estate to his second wife, Joan, through one joint bank account with rights of survivorship ROS and two pay on death POD accounts. These multi party accounts are known as non probate accounts, meaning that

In The Estate Of Nielsen, 061700055CV TexApp Dist 10/03/2017 Texas Lawyer
In the Estate of Nielsen, 06 17 00055 CV TexApp Dist 10/03/2017 Texas Lawyer After the temporary administrator of the estate of Steven Douglas Nielsen39s first amended inventory, appraisement, and list of claims was approved in the Probate Court No. 2 of Tarrant County, Nielsen39s surviving spouse, Linda D. Nielsen Linda, filed and more raquo

Vancouver Estate Lawyers Explain The Probate Process SYSCON Media Press Release
Vancouver Estate Lawyers Explain the Probate Process SYS CON Media press release VANCOUVER, BC Marketwired October 16, 2017 For those appointed as an executor to a will or who decide to become administrator of an estate, one of the first tasks required is to prepare for the probate process. A new blog from Kushner Law and more raquo

Can Stepmother Leave Stepchildren Out Of Inheritance Lawyers.com Blog Blog
Can stepmother leave stepchildren out of inheritance Lawyers.com Blog blog Only the belongings of your father that were legally titled in his name and no one else39s are subject to probate and thus would be subject to some share being distributed to his children depending on how many children he had. Although you would

Probate Estate Richard Pahr Hastings Star Gazette Hastings Star Gazette
Probate Estate Richard Pahr Hastings Star Gazette Hastings Star Gazette Notice is given that an application for informal probate of the decedent39s Will, dated September 26, 2003, and quotWillquot, has been filed with the Registrar. Probate George Chergosky Lakefield StandardLakefield Standard all 3 news articles raquo

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Facts of Law covering estate probate law

Facts of Law - Estate Probate