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Demystifying the Probate Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

Have you recently lost a loved one, and you are in charge of handling the details of their estate? When assets, money, and other personal possessions are being distributed, you will likely need to go through probate.

What is Probate?

This legal process is designed to sort through who gets what as the assets are being given to beneficiaries. It’s a court-supervised method that ensures the estate is handled according to the desires of the deceased. An executor or representative will review the assets, make sure that all debts are paid, and then finalize the distribution of remaining money and property based on the person’s will.

Probate often takes 6 to 9 months or more, and it can be a stressful process if you aren’t familiar with the legal requirements. The actual timeline can vary depending on whether the person has a will, the amount of assets, and any unique or complicated factors that need to be addressed in the estate.

Even if there is a last will and testament outlining the desires of the deceased, it’s still necessary for the estate to go through probate. This legal process is a needed step to transfer ownership of the money and assets. But there are certain types of assets that can bypass probate, such as assets in a living trust, joint-owned property, and assets or accounts naming a beneficiary.

How Probate Works

If you have been named executor for your loved one’s estate, then it means that you are responsible for overseeing everything after that person passes away. A variety of steps will need to be completed, such as:

  • Submitting a death certificate, will, and estate documents to the court

  • Filing a petition to begin the probate process, then obtaining court approval to administer the estate

  • Communication with the beneficiaries that probate is starting

  • Taking inventory of all assets and debts

  • Paying the debts, then distributing the remaining assets to the named beneficiaries

  • Finally, the last step is to close the estate

The probate process can be challenging to navigate, which is why it’s a good idea to hire a probate attorney for assistance. This process can be even more complicated if a person dies without a will, because the succession laws will determine what happens to the estate.

If you need legal support for the probate process, then our expert team at Miles & Hatcher, LLP is here to help. Call at your convenience to book a free consultation: (909) 481-4080.

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