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Everything You Need to Know about Probate

Probate laws can vary depending on which state you are in, and the process can sometimes be long and drawn out. There are many variables to consider, and it is crucial to understand probate, so you get some idea of whether the process should be quick and painless for you or whether it is likely to be long and drawn-out.

Defining Probate

Probate is the legal process of dealing with the possessions of someone after they die. This can include cash assets and property or real estate. Items go “into probate,” meaning that they go through the due process, as it is established via wills and state laws, which is entitled to the inheritance, as well as any fees that are applied. A probate attorney can also help you make any challenges and ensure you get what you are entitled to at all times.

Important Terms to Know

There are some essential terms to understand when it comes to probate. As you search for more information, you might find some of these terms used:

Affidavit – An affidavit is a statement made while someone is under oath.

Beneficiary – A beneficiary is a party who is due to gain or receive from the process.

Register of Wills – The Register of Wills may be the office with jurisdiction over probate, depending upon where you live.

Per capita – Per capita is a way to distribute property whereby people get an equal share.

Will – The will is the document used to divide up the property based on the deceased’s wishes.

How Long Does Probate Take?

This is one of those frustrating questions that doesn’t have a simple answer. How long does probate take? Usually, between 1-3 years, this depends on so many factors, including whether or not there is a will. Other factors impacting probate include how much property there is to distribute and the local state laws regarding probate. There may also be backlogs in court. All of this can add up to a longer case in some situations. Some people choose to put their belongings in trust before they pass away. This can help to simplify the process a lot.

Probate Assets

Probate is needed for a property owned in the name of the deceased person only, or a share is “tenants in common,” so the deceased owned part of the property.

Cars, real estate, and other physical assets often have to go through probate. There is a limit on the value of items subject to a simplified probate process in some states. This makes it easier for smaller estates.

Some items don’t go through probate. For example, if a beneficiary is named or if something is jointly owned with a spouse. Succession planning and estate planning can create a simple guide to follow for trusts and 401ks once you have passed away.

Costs of Probate

Probate fees are yet another variable. It depends on where you live. Each state has its own unique guidelines on probate and probate assets.

Court fees, accounting fees, executor fees and attorney fees can all add up. These may restrict these restrictions, whereas others will allow for a “reasonable” price to be charged, open to some interpretation.

Some fees, such as court fees, might be relatively low, depending on how long the process takes.

It’s not unusual to use 4-5% of the value you are looking to receive, and sometimes even 7-8% can be lost in the fees associated with probate by the time everything has been sorted. You can see why people go through the simplified processes if they can.

Final Summary

Probate is often unavoidable, but it can cost a lot of time and money, so it is a good idea to put steps in place before you pass away so that you can keep things as simple as possible for your family. If you are facing probate, ensure that you have a good lawyer in place, and prepare for the fact that some estates can take a while to process, especially if there are disputes over ownership.

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