What Is Probate?


A Posthumous Process

When someone passes away, their possessions must be passed down to their proper beneficiaries. Whether that person dies with or without a will, the assets they owned will be distributed through a process known as probate. Here are some of the basic tenets of probate that you should know.

How the Process Works

In the case where a person passes away with a will, the person named as the executor, or the person who is designated to carry out the wishes of the deceased, will go to court to authenticate the will and ensure it is valid, after which the executor will pay any debts and taxes owed by the deceased. The executor should also begin to compile all of the assets of the deceased and prepare them for distribution. Depending on the size of the debts owed by the deceased, they may have to sell some of the property in order to pay off those debts.

Once an inventory of all assets is taken and any outstanding debts and taxes have been paid, the executor can then seek the approval of the court to distribute assets to those named in the will. While the process takes time, it does go much more smoothly if a will is in place.

What If There’s No Will?

If there is no will in place, then the estate is considered intestate, and the assets of the estate will be distributed according to state laws. The court will appoint an administrator to act in a capacity similar to that of the executor. Most states pass the property on to the deceased’s surviving spouse and children in the event that the estate is intestate.

Do You Have to Go Through Probate?

Depending on the complexity of the assets passed down from the deceased, a case such as this may not necessarily have to go through probate. If assets such as retirement plans or life insurance policies have named beneficiaries, for example, or if the total value of assets owned by the deceased total less than $166,250, probate may not be necessary.

Why An Attorney is Necessary

While probate might sound simple as described above, the process itself can be both time-consuming and emotionally challenging. The amount of paperwork required to complete the process may be overwhelming, especially when dealing with the loss of a loved one. Rather than try to handle this difficult time on your own, consider working with a family law attorney who understands the probate process and can help you work through the legal process to the other side.

At Schweitzer Law Partners, our team understands how important it is for your loved one’s wishes to be upheld. We also know that this time may be difficult for you. Our team will treat your case with the utmost love and care to help you through this challenging time.

To learn more about our probate services or to schedule a consultation with a member of our team, call us at (626) 788-5225 or visit us online.