Probate refers to the process that commences when someone dies to distribute the deceased person’s assets to the necessary beneficiaries.
If there is no legal will in place, the people that receive the assets are designated by state law.
As you can see, making sure you have a valid and verified will is a must if you want to make sure the proper family members, or friends, receive your valued assets.
The probate process is a process by which several key things take place:
- The executor (also known as the executor of a will), takes over the deceased person’s affairs and property
- The beneficiaries of the will (heirs) are located
- The deceased person’s assets, bank account information, property, etc. are located and accounted for
- The deceased person’s debts are paid
- All tax returns of the deceased are filed and taxes are paid for that person
- If necessary, the deceased person’s assets and property are sold in order to pay any outstanding debts, bills, taxes, etc.
- Payment and distribution of all remaining assets, property and cash are made to the beneficiaries of the will
How expensive is a probate process?
Navigating the probate process on your own or with expert help can be extremely expensive and time consuming. Probate attorneys charge about $300 an hour, on average. The whole process from start to finish can take over 50 hours, costing upwards of $15,000.
How to avoid probate
There are some ways to avoid probate, most of which are very complicated and come with a degree of risk. These strategies include items such as joint tenancies, beneficiary designations, life estates, etc., and come with risks such as bad tax consequences, lack of asset control, etc.
Probate doesn’t have to be that bad! You don’t need to do all this to avoid it!
When you have everything prepared in advance, in one simple, organized packet of information, your loved ones can easily go through the probate process to settle your final affairs.