“Probate” refers to the legal process that takes place when a person dies leaving a Will. The Probate process includes appointing an executor and proving the validity of the Will. If the deceased does not have a valid Will, then the law of intestate succession applies.
Once appointed, the executor of the estate of a deceased person is responsible for the following tasks:
- Finding, collecting and making an inventory all of the assets of the deceased that did not transfer automatically on death and that remain titled in the name of the deceased.
- Paying the last expenses of the deceased, if any.
- Filing the last tax returns of the deceased and paying any taxes (if necessary).
- Distributing the remaining assets to the heirs of the deceased as provided for in the Will.
The entire probate process usually takes around five to six months. More complicated estates or contested estates can take longer than a year and be more expensive.
How to determine if a Probate is required?
In order to determine if Probate is required, you must prepare an inventory of the assets owned by the deceased at the time of death. The purpose of the inventory is to determine if there are any assets of the deceased that remain titled in the name of the deceased after death. If there are no significant assets, then Probate may not be cost effective.
There are many assets that do not transfer automatically at death. These include:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts – checking and savings
- Certificates of Deposit
- Stock of corporations
- Membership interests in limited liability companies
- Investment accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Vehicles and boats
After you identify all of the assets owned by the deceased at the time of death, you next have to determine if the ownership of each asset automatically transferred on death. Assets that transfer automatically at death are not part of the probate estate.
How to determine who owns real estate?
The way to determine the owner of real estate is by checking the title to the land. You also have to check the actual deed to see how the deceased held the title to the land. Some types of ownership transfer automatically. Therefor, probate may or may not be necessary depending on how the property was held.
To get answers to all of your probate questions, email us or call 601-957-3101.