What Does Probate Mean?
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What Does Probate Mean?
The term “probate” refers to a legal process that governs the distribution of a person’s assets upon their death. The probate process provides some structure accountability when it comes to the distribution of the assets to the intended beneficiaries and recipients.
In most cases, this done according to the instructions contained in the person’s will. However, if there are disputes, more court intervention may be required to help resolve the conflict.
Who Oversees the Probate Process?
Generally speaking, it is the estate executor or executor of the will who oversees the probate process on behalf of the deceased person’s estate. This person is usually named in the will document, and this person should be someone who is close to the estate holder and is familiar with the person’s overall desires and intents.
What If the Executor Is Not Available?
If no executor is named in the will, or if the named executor becomes unavailable, the court itself will appoint an executor to oversee the probate process. This person is known as the administrator of the estate. This is basically a different term but executors and administrators perform the same tasks, which may include:
- Identifying and classifying assets for distribution
- Ordering the release or transfer of the assets at the appropriate time
- Reporting any conflicts to the court
- Handling debt or taxes
- Interacting with the probate judge on various matters
What Are Some Drawbacks of the Probate Process?
The probate process is generally seen as something to be avoided because it involves some costs and can be time consuming. Also, if the court is intervening heavily and making decisions with regards to the estate, it can sometimes lead to uneven or unexpected distributions of the property.
For instance, a close relative might feel like a distribution was unfair or not what the deceased person would have intended. This is because the court may sometimes follow state distribution laws, whereas the deceased person might have had some personal preferences that were different. In such cases, further litigation might be required to settle disputes.
Probate can be avoided through the use of living trusts, joint property arrangements, transfer-on-death payments, and other mechanisms.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Wills or Probate Issues?
Probate laws can vary from state to state and may be somewhat difficult for the average person to fully understand. It is in your best interests to hire an estate lawyer if you have any issues or concerns regarding probate. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice and guidance to help you with your claim. Also, your lawyer can be present to represent you during court meetings or discussions.
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Last Modified: 08-25-2014 03:33 PM PDT
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