What Is Probate? Here’s What You Need To Know

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What Is Probate?

You have worked hard to accumulate wealth for yourself and your family. You should be able to do what you want with it when you die; however, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the estate tax could end up costing you and your heirs as much as 50 percent of your wealth when you die. In order to avoid this, it is important to go through the process of estate planning. One of the consequences of overlooked estate planning is something called probate. You need to understand what probate is, what the consequences might be, and how you might be able to make this process as smooth as possible.

An Overview of Probate

For those who might not know, probate is a term that is used to describe a legal process involving inheritance. During this process, a will is reviewed to make sure that it is both valid and authentic. In addition, the term probate might be used to refer to how a person’s will is divided or how someone’s assets are divided if he or she does not have a will.

Related: How to Protect Your Financial Assets

When someone passes away, the court will appoint someone to act as an executor. This is usually the person who is named in the will. If there is nobody named, then the court will appoint someone else who is called the administrator. The job of this person is to collect the assets of the individual to pay any remaining liabilities. Then, that person is supposed to distribute the assets of the estate to certain beneficiaries.

Usually, probate proceedings are focused on what is indicated in the will. While probate is not always required, it is usually involved to some extent if the person had a significant amount of assets. The good news is that it is possible to avoid high probate costs by having a will that is easy to authenticate in addition to investment vehicles that might be able to circumvent probate.

How Does Probate Work?

The process of probate involves the analysis and transfer of estate’s assets from one owner (who has passed away) form someone else. When the owner of property dies, the probate court usually reviews the assets and provides the ruling on who gets what. This proceeding starts by looking for a will that has been legalized.

If the person has a will, then the will is followed. Usually, there is an executor whose job it is to break up the assets and run the probate process. This is usually a financial advisor or financial attorney who helped put the will together. It is this person’s job to file the will with the probate court. States can have different rules regarding how long someone has to file a will following the death of a loved one. Filing the will starts the probate process. Then, the court will verify the authenticity of the will and the executor will carry out the division of assets.

What If There Is No Will?

If there is no will, that individual is said to have died intestate. This is where the full probate process unfolds. The first step is for the court to appoint someone who is known as an administrator. The administrator is responsible for taking the assets of the estate and using them to pay off any outstanding bills or debts that person might have had. After that, the administrator will locate any surviving heirs. These might include kids, siblings, and parents. Then, the remaining assets are divided among the heirs. If the person does not have any surviving heirs, the assets go to the state.

This can be an expensive process which is why it is important for everyone to have a living will. This is where a trained attorney can be helpful.

Rely on the Help of a Trained Attorney

These are a few of the most important points that you need to keep in mind when it comes to probate. For more Florida probate resources, visit finitylaw.com. You do not have to go through this process alone. With appropriate estate planning, probate can be kept to a minimum, which means that your heirs will receive as much of their inheritance as possible.

For more Florida probate resources, visit finitylaw.com.