How Does Probate Work?

Probate and How it Works

When planning for what happens at the end of your life and beyond, the focus is all about caring for your family. You want to make things as easy for them as possible after your death and creating a comprehensive estate plan will help achieve that. However, something you may want to ask your estate planning team about is probate. Unless you have experienced the process firsthand, you may not understand what it means. Take a look at how probate works so you can plan your final wishes accordingly.

What Does Probate Do?

Probate may seem rather mysterious for those who have not had to deal with a loved one’s will before. It is the court process through which many wills must travel before an estate can be divided. Probate court exists to ensure that the deceased’s debts are paid and wishes carried out. Depending on the state, there is usually a threshold an estate must stay under to avoid the court process. 

What Is the Basic Process?

When a dead person leaves a will, it is filed with the local court by the executor or administrator. This is a person designated in the will to take control of administering the estate in court. Once the will is filed, the administrator must send or publish notices so debtors and heirs will know about the death. The administrator must provide a full accounting of the estate to the court. When debtors stake a claim, the court decides if the debt is valid and if it gets paid. Once the debts are paid, the administrator must inform heirs and divide the remainder of the estate as dictated by the will. When there is nothing left to do, the court closes the probate proceeding and the estate.

Is Probate Avoidable?

There are some ways that probate may be avoided and with good reason. First, the process can drag on, and heirs may have to wait a while to get what you wanted them to have. If there are debts the court finds valid, those may also take away from the estate. Fiduciary tools, such as trusts, can help to directly pass money to those you want to have it without going through probate.

Hammering out the details of what happens upon your death may not feel uplifting, but it is one of the most positive and responsible things you can do for your family. If you think that you may need a probate lawyer in Sacramento, CA, then lawyers from a firm like Yee Law Group, PC can assist you how to proceed.