Six Things To Be Aware Of Regarding Probate

If you need to hire a probate attorney to deal with the will or estate of a loved one, it's important that you learn as much as possible about the probate process.

The following are six things to be aware of regarding probate:

1. Probate is the process of a court validating a will and carrying out the distribution of assets as outlined in the will.

Probate is a legal process whereby the validity of a will is determined. After a will is determined to be genuine and valid, the executor named in the will is permitted to distribute the assets of the deceased individual among all beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. 

2. If there is no will, an estate can end up in probate and will be distributed to beneficiaries or dependents according to state law.

While probate can handle estate distribution when a will is present, probate is also the major legal mechanism for handling the estate of a deceased individual in the absence of a will.

If there is no will, probate will involve determining how assets should be distributed according to case law. When there is no will, the judge in the case will often serve the roll of executor of the estate. 

3. Probate laws vary between states.

Those wishing to understand how probate will proceed regarding the estate of their loved one should know that procedures vary significantly by state. You should research probate law in your state for more specific details. 

4. Probate involves determining who will be the executor of the will.

Usually, a will names an executor for the will who handles the distribution of assets after the will is validated. If the will does not name an executor, an executor will be determined in probate court. The executor is typically a close surviving family member of the deceased individual. 

5. Probate involves paying off any outstanding debts or taxes of the deceased individual.

Before assets from an estate are distributed, outstanding debts of the deceased individual need to be paid off.

However, certain assets can bypass probate and go directly to the beneficiary without being used to pay off debts. These assets include life insurance payments, "payable on death" items, or items that were jointly owned with another individual. 

6. Probate can take several years.

Probate can, unfortunately, be a long process. While the exact duration of the probate process can vary widely by case and depending on the state, probate takes about two years on average. 

To learn more, contact a company like the Law Offices of Wayne A. Pederson.