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Probate Explained

Last Will

Probate is a process that goes into effect when someone passes away to administer their estate. The laws of probate vary from state to state, but there are some common practices that link all of the states together. If a loved one passes away, then you will probably be involved in the probate process in some way.

What Is Probate?

The probate system is what your state uses to verify that a deceased person’s will is legitimate, and to make sure that all of the debts of the estate are satisfied. It can be a lengthy process depending on how the deceased’s estate is set up and whether or not there is a legal will on file. A family should hire an attorney to help oversee the probate process. The attorney does not need to be experienced in elder law, but it can help.

How Does The Process Start?

When an individual passes away, the courts will review the will to determine who the executor of the estate will be. Once the executor is identified and notified, that executor will work directly with the courts to start satisfying taxes and debts associated with the estate.

If there is no will, then the courts will assign an executor to the estate. Each state has its own rules for assigning an executor, but it is usually the closest relative to the deceased. Once that executor is in place, the process begins.

Distributing Funds

The executor and the courts will use the liquid assets of the estate to first satisfy any unpaid taxes, and then move to paying creditors. The courts will oversee the payment of creditors as long as their are liquid assets to utilize. When the liquid assets run out, the executor will start determining which property to sell to generate the cash needed to pay debts.

During this process, the beneficiaries of the estate are alerted that the estate is in probate and that they could be in line for some sort of distribution. But if the estate runs out of cash before debts are paid, then there will be nothing left to distribute to beneficiaries.

Closing The Estate

Once the courts are satisfied that all debts that can be paid have been paid and the remaining assets have been distributed to beneficiaries, the executor will end their guardianship of the estate and the estate will be closed. It is entirely possible that some creditors and beneficiaries will miss out on payments if the estate runs out of assets before all debts have been satisfied. Once the estate has been closed, the family can choose to continue doing business in the name of the estate.

The probate system in your state is designed to make sure that the debts of an estate are satisfied before beneficiaries are paid. The probate process can take a long time, but it essential in ensuring that a deceased individual’s final expenses are paid. If you need with the probate process contact our experienced probate and trust administration lawyers at The Mattar Firm today.


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