Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person. It involves verifying the authenticity of the last will and testament of the deceased, paying off any debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
Probate is often necessary when the deceased person had assets in their name at the time of their death. In this article, we will discuss when probate is necessary and the steps involved in the probate process.
When is probate necessary?
Probate is necessary when the deceased person had assets in their name at the time of their death, and these assets do not pass automatically to a surviving joint tenant or beneficiary. Common assets that may require probate include:
Real estate: If the deceased person owned real estate in their name, it will typically require probate to transfer ownership to the beneficiaries.
Personal property: Personal property, such as cars, jewelry, and other valuable items, will require a probate if it was owned solely by the deceased person.
Bank accounts: Bank accounts in the name of the deceased person will typically require probate to transfer ownership to the beneficiaries.
Investments: Investments, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, may also require a probate if they were owned solely by the deceased person.
Business interests: If the deceased person owned a business, probate might be necessary to transfer ownership to the beneficiaries or to sell the business.
It is important to note that even if the deceased person had a will, probate may still be necessary to transfer ownership of their assets. A will only have the effect of directing how the assets will be distributed, but it does not transfer ownership of the assets.
Steps involved in the probate process
The probate process can be complex and time-consuming, but it is necessary to properly administer the estate and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. The following are the general steps involved in the probate process:
Filing a petition: The first step in the probate process is to file a petition with the probate court to open the estate. The petitioner is typically the person named as the executor in the will, but if there is no will, it may be a family member or other interested party.
Appointing an executor: If the deceased person had a will, the probate court will typically appoint the person named as the executor to administer the estate. If there is no will, the court will appoint an administrator to manage the estate.
Notifying creditors and beneficiaries: The executor or administrator must notify all creditors and beneficiaries of the estate, allowing them to make claims against the estate if they wish.
Inventorying assets: The executor or administrator must inventory all of the help of the estate, including real estate, personal property, bank accounts, and investments. The value of these assets must be determined, and any debts or taxes must be paid.
Distribute assets: Once all debts and taxes have been paid, the remaining assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries. The executor or administrator must follow the directions set out in the will or the laws of intestacy, which determine how the assets will be distributed if there is no will.
Closing the estate: Once all assets have been distributed, the executor or administrator must file a final report with the probate court and request that the estate be closed.
The probate process can take several months or even years to complete, depending on the complexity of the estate and the number of creditors and beneficiaries.