Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Probate Defined


Probate is the court supervised distribution of your assets if you don't have a living trust and can be a long, expensive process that simply does not have to occur. The expense of this process as compared to the expense of administering a living trust should be calculated to decide whether, in your case, creation of a living trust is a better solution. Death is a difficult time for everyone concerned, and you may want to protect your family from having to go to probate court, if there is a better solution in your case.

The probate process usually involves…

• Filing a deceased person's will with the local probate court
• Taking an inventory/getting appraisals
• Publishing notices
• Paying all legal debts
• Distributing the remaining assets and property to the rightful heirs

Probate may require an "executor" and an "attorney." Sometimes the executor is referred to as the "personal representative." The executor is responsible for making sure the Last Will and Testament is followed. The executor often hires an attorney to handle the necessary paperwork.

Executors and attorneys are allowed to charge "reasonable fees" for their services. Executors who are family members frequently waive their own fees where the estate is small, but they are not obliged to do so. Some additional fees beyond those paid to the attorney and executor include court costs, filing fees, etc. These fees are paid out before any proceeds are distributed to the decedent's family.

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